I was recently walking around the cemetery with trusted research assistant Marilyn Veek. We were chatting about various “Stories in Stone” offerings past, present and upcoming, along with other research endeavors taken on as part of our Friends of Mount Olivet (FOMO)membership group and the cemetery’s Preservation and Enhancement program begun in late 2017. We eventually came upon Area NN, a truly unique part of our historic grounds which hold the oldest collection of graves in the cemetery.
The section here includes the mortal remains of folks formerly buried in three of downtown Frederick’s original burying grounds, specifically decedents associated with the Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian congregations. These churches, along with four others, were part of the genesis of Mount Olivet back in the early 1850s. A new, non-denominational communal cemetery on the outskirts of town would remedy the problem of existing churchyards having become filled to capacity, while in several cases, adjoining ground was needed to expand worship facilities for an ever-growing population.
Here in Area NN, we are currently aided by the opportunity to read stones like never before in our lifetime because of the work our Friends group undertook last summer in cleaning these monuments. This came under the supervision of our FOMO monument cleaning committee under Nanette and Rob Markey. Most of these gravestones date to the early 1800s, and a few are from the 1700s. Many are beautiful examples of early stone mason craftsmanship, with some even carved in German, a language commonly spoken in town as English up through the early decades of the 19th century.
One such downtown burying ground, long gone, was that of the Old Presbyterian Churchyard. This sacred plot was once located around the congregation's first meeting house on the southwest corner of North Bentz and West Fourth streets, at the point where today’s Dill Avenue begins.
Frederick's original English Presbyterian Church was constructed in 1780 and built of brick and boasted "high backed pews, a lofty pulpit, and a brick floor." A new house of worship was completed in 1825 on West Second Street, but the original graveyard remained active until 1885, at which time the trustees decided to discontinue use. The old structure was utilized afterwards as part of an old factory until being sold, along with the cemetery ground, to the Salvation Army for $400 in 1887.
A telling letter to the editor appeared in the Frederick Post on October 6th, 1936. This was written by one of our former “Stories in Stone” subjects, Edward Ralston Goldsborough, and paints a little clearer picture of the ancient burying ground. It exposes the problem encountered with wholesale cemetery removals in which not all bodies are sometimes accounted for.
Most of the bodies here were removed on May 10th, 1887 and transferred to Mount Olivet. They were originally placed in Area Q, but later moved to Area NN on December 12th, 1907. Among these was a gentleman by the name of Abraham Haff, who is said to rest in Lot 130/Grave 11. A monument on this site is the most substantial of all the Presbyterian gravestones, however, it only tells half, or should I say “haff” of the story.
Let me explain, the monument proudly displays the name of Abraham Haff on its face, born September 22nd, 1805 and died on January 29th, 1864. Thanks to our thorough cemetery records, I would soon find that although the monument calls out Abraham Haff, it’s not the same Abraham Haff buried a few feet below this brown, sandstone memorial. To make things more confusing, the decedent resting in Lot 130/Grave 11 holds the same name of Abraham Haff, but is the father of the guy whose name is carved in the stone above. He has a birth date of May 5th, 1769 and death date of December 30th, 1813, and it will be safe to label this latter gentleman with a suffix—Abraham Haff, Jr.
Abraham Haff, Jr. was born in Frederick in 1769, the son of a Revolutionary War veteran named Major Abraham Haff, Sr. (1734-1812) of Readington Township (Hunterdon County), New Jersey. His mother was Jane Beatty (1736-1812), a granddaughter of the famed Colonial pioneer (to Frederick) named Susanna Ashfordby Beatty, originally from the Kingston, New York area. Jane is connected to her grandmother’s property purchased in the 1730s, site of the aptly named Beatty-Cramer house, found just east of Ceresville, along Israel's Creek and clearly visible on the north side of Liberty Road/MD route 26. On October 10th, 1781, Major Haff obtained 149 acres from his mother-in-law’s estate of Spring Garden about the location of Glade Valley Farms on the approach to Mount Pleasant.
Major Abraham Haff, Sr. served as an early church elder and donated the land the original Presbyterian Church and burying ground would be built upon. I gleaned a bit about the Abraham Haff, Jr. from a genealogy book written by Frank Allaben and found online: The Ancestry of Leander Howard Crall: Monographs on the Crall, Haff, Beatty …Families published in 1908 by Grafton Press of New York City.
The following is the section on Abraham Haff, Jr.:
Abraham Haff, Jr. was married twice. His first wife was Frances Dern (b. 1778), whom he married in 1795. The Haffs had eight children, of which we are most interested here in the 5th born and only son. They included: Catherine (Haff) Biggs (1797-1852), Martha (Haff) Gilson (1799-1873), Mary (Haff) Crall (1801-1881), Frances Jane (Haff) Delaplaine (1803-1869), Abraham Haff III (b. 1805), Amy (Haff) Troxell (1808-1888), and Priscilla (Haff) Biggs (b. 1810). Frances died in 1811 and Abraham, Jr. married again in July, 1812 to Priscilla Hauer. An eighth child would be born to Haff, Eleanor Mary (Haff) Stevenson (b. May, 1813), but he would die before the end of the year.
As far as I could tell, none of these children are buried in Mount Olivet, save for son Abraham. Frances Haff was likely buried in the Presbyterian Graveyard, but didn’t make the trip to Mount Olivet with her husband’s remains—at least we have no record of her here.
So, I told you that there is not a separate stone marker for Abraham Haff, Jr. Perhaps there was one which originally stood in the old Presbyterian churchyard, but who knows? It likely disappeared along the way as well, not uncommon as broken or worn stones were seen as unsightly elements here in Frederick’s “garden cemetery” back in the day, and basically not allowed to be placed. I would look to 1887 as the time a decision was made in refusing his old stone, or perhaps there wasn’t anything to consider in the first place. Instead, the large monument for Abraham Haff III would be placed here over Abraham, Jr.
So is Abraham III nearby? Before we answer that question, let’s look at the life of Abraham Haff III, one in which we see a continued devotion to Frederick’s Presbyterian congregation. On the flip-side, I did not find Abraham Haff III to be a real fun-loving guy—more of a” glass half-empty” kind of individual but he always had faith.
Abraham III had a childhood filled with loss as he would lose his patriotic grandfather (Abraham, Sr.), and biological parents before he turned eight. Now, as a step-parent myself, I don’t want to falsely speculate on the ‘tween and teen years of our subject, but God only knows the experience Abraham III had being raised by his stepmother and her (third) husband. In addition, keep in mind he was the only boy, having seven sisters to contend with. Whatever the case, he never married, or had children of his own. A lone mention in Jacob Engelbrecht’s diary raises another interesting mystery along the subject of potential “family bliss” for Abraham.
“Married on Sunday last 30 ultimo at Gettysburg Pennsylvania by Justice Wilson of Waynesboro, Doctor Abraham Haff of this city to Miss Jane Brooks of Chester County Pennsylvania.”
This was written by the author on December 2nd, 1828, however Jacob later writes the notation that this was a “false report.”
Mr. Haff was a staunch supporter of temperance, and led an exhilarating career as a druggist under the firm name of Haff & Davidson, begun around 1827. The apothecary’s location was near the Square Corner intersection of Market and Patrick streets (a few doors north of the northeast corner). I found, however, that Haff’s business partner, George Davidson, died in January, 1831 of Scarlet Fever. He is buried in Mount Olivet’s Area NN, but doesn’t have a gravestone either.
The partnership was dissolved, but Mr. Haff took over the whole of the operation. As he strived to make people of Frederick better, he surely prescribed the notion that death comes to all eventually, regardless of medicine. This would be telling in his own case.
Haff's young business associate was the son of the town’s former Presbyterian minister Rev. Patrick Davidson (1775-1824). Rev. Davidson was also a former principal of the Frederick Academy and has a large and impressive ledger-style monument found to the immediate right of Abraham Haff III’s monument.
Sadly, death would come to Haff’s business venture as he had to put it up for sale one year later. It appears that he may have been bankrupt in 1832 as he defaulted on a mortgage and had to sell off all the stock/wares from the shop as well as a farm in Creagerstown that he had bought in 1827. At the time, his sister and brother-in-law were living on the premises.
Mr. Haff never bought another property but continued working as a druggist at least through 1863, based on newspaper ads I saw. It appears that Abraham Haff III’s career in medicine continued as he worked in conjunction with two other leading physicians of town in his latter years—Dr. George Fischer (1809-1866) and Dr. Fairfax Schley (1823-1903). He can be found living in the same household with each of these gentlemen, respectively, in the 1850 and 1860 US Census records.
Haff’s lasting achievement seems to have been his unwavering service as superintendent of the Presbyterian Church Sunday School. He certainly followed in his grandfather’s shoes with this congregation. As a matter of fact, this post indirectly led to his untimely death at the age of 58. On the bright side, however, his Sunday school endeavor caused a fine memorial to be erected in the Presbyterian Churchyard at the time of his death. In turn, it is this memorial that led me to write this story, as it’s the same monument that sits on top of his father’s grave in Area NN.
The Crall family genealogy, referenced earlier, was written from the context of Abraham III’s brother-in-law, Joseph, wife of Abraham’s sister, Mary. Here is what the book has to say about Abraham III, including a recounting of his death in early, 1864:
As one could imagine, the Frederick community was stunned in hearing the news of Mr. Haff's death at the age of 58, but none more than his fellow parishioners of Frederick's Presbyterian Church. The following lengthy obituary would appear in the local newspapers.
Abraham Haff, III was buried in Mount Olivet on January 31st, 1864. His plot was paid for the day before by Fairfax Schley. This burial plot, however, is nowhere near Area NN or Area Q for that matter. Instead, it is in Area B/Lot 35.
I ventured to look at this gravesite, especially curious to see his gravestone. When I arrived, I was perplexed seeing no grave marker whatsoever. In subsequent years, members of the William and Eve Stoner family were laid to rest here. I question why an impressive monument would be placed in the Presbyterian Cemetery in memory of this man, but nothing over his final resting spot here in Mount Olivet? With no heirs of his own, I guess the charity of Fairfax Schley and the Presbyterian Church had been exhausted.
More puzzling was the fact that Haff III’s large memorial monument was placed in Areas Q (1887) and NN (1907) respectively at the time of the Presbyterian Cemetery removal, and lot transfer within the cemetery. At this time, however, the Stoners had been buried in some of the spots in Area B/Lot 35. Looking at our cemetery lot card for this plot, it appears that 44 year-old William Stoner would be buried directly over top Abraham in the same exact grave space (labeled #2). Mr. Stoner died in 1863, but was re-interred elsewhere and later reburied here in 1891, shortly after the burials of his wife Eva in 1890 and daughters Mary and Edna (who died in 1887 and 1889 respectively).
As the article above stated, Abraham III died of a heart attack in a street car in Baltimore, Maryland, while returning from a Sunday School Convention held in Boston and/or purchasing business supplies and goods in New York. The large monument was placed shortly thereafter within the Presbyterian Graveyard honoring him as Superintendent of Sunday School. When all inhabitants of the burying ground were re-interred in May of 1887, Haff’s fine tribute marker was brought to Mount Olivet as well, and later placed in NN-130-11A over his father's assigned grave regardless of the fact that he, Abraham Haff III, was actually buried in Area B/Lot 35 thirteen years prior on January 31st, 1864.
I find it so ironic that Abraham and William Stoner would each share “half” of a grave lot at this location. Meanwhile, over in Area NN, Abraham III’s monument is sharing half a gravesite with his father.
Hopefully I’ve piqued interest with the unorthodox title above. Living here in Frederick, Maryland, most residents are familiar with the initials “T.J.” and who they belong to. Yes, the man who unknowingly lent his name to not only a local high school (my alma mater) and middle school, but also a thoroughfare through an estimated 85% of our town’s physician offices and related medical services. I’m talking, of course, about Thomas Johnson. Mr. Johnson was one of Maryland’s top heroes of the American Revolution period, and became the state’s first elected governor. His resume is quite impressive, and the above named legacies are fitting because they are located on land Johnson had purchased in 1778.
I wrote a piece on Gov. Thomas Johnson, Jr. back in October 2019, marking the 200th anniversary of his death. My focus this week is not on Thomas, but I wanted to make special mention of one of his eight children, Ann Jennings (Johnson) Grahame, born in Annapolis in 1759. In addition to being his oldest daughter, biographer Edward S. Delaplaine claimed that she was her father’s favorite. Thomas Johnson had five of eight children reach adulthood, one being the fore-mentioned Ann.
As for Ann Jennings (Johnson) Grahame, many may have a familiarity with this woman, but likely more because of her home, rather than a particular deed or accomplishment achieved during her lifetime. Ann, and husband Major John Colin Grahame, are responsible for building the mansion known as Rose Hill Manor in the mid-1790s. The story goes that Anne’s father gave the newly married couple an amazing wedding gift in 1789—the 225-acre parcel formerly known as Rose Garden. Thomas Johnson also “bankrolled” the construction of the magnificent manor house. In return, Thomas, who had recently lost his wife, came to live at Rose Hill for his final 25 years. (He had previously lived just up the road at a plantation named Richfield.)
Major Grahame died in 1833, and Ann would live another four years until spring, 1837. Frederick diarist Jacob Engelbrecht made the following entry in his diary on May 5th, 1837:
“Died on Wednesday last 3rd instant in the 69 years of her age, Mrs. Ann J. Grahame widow of the late Major John Grahame and daughter of the late Governor Thomas Johnson. Buried on the Protestant-Episcopal graveyard.”
This locale was also known as All Saint’s Burying Ground, between Carroll Creek and East All Saints Street. Sometime between 1854 and 1913, Ann’s remains would be reinterred here in Mount Olivet in Area A/Lot 2. A fine monument memorializes her, although the death date carved in stone reads 1835 instead of 1837. Our cemetery files agree with Engelbrecht’s death date, however his math was off by ten as Mrs. Graham was 79 years of age, not 69.
Well that takes care of explaining a fraction of my puzzling story title. Since we’ve now established who one T.J. is, now it’s time for the “other,” as these two men personally knew each other during time spent together serving in the Continental Congress and fight for Independence back in the 1770s. Proof of their relationship in later decades exists in the form of a letter received by Thomas Johnson in March 1792 from the other T. J. The contents spoke to Mr. Johnson’s work as one of the commissioners chosen to oversee the laying out of the country’s new capital, the District of Columbia.
Of course I’m talking about the immortal Thomas Jefferson, who at this time was serving as Secretary of State under first president George Washington, a known close friend of Thomas Johnson. Interestingly, I learned that our (Frederick) T.J. was originally given consideration by Washington to serve as his Secretary of State in 1793. Johnson would be offered this position by Washington, himself, two years later, after the resignation of Edmond Randolph. Johnson had stepped down from a position as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court late 1793 and would respectfully decline the position due to his own concerns with declining health.
Wives and Daughters
Both T.J.s were widowed early, Thomas Johnson in 1794 after the death of wife Ann Jennings, and Thomas Jefferson in 1782 when wife Martha Wayles Skelton (b. 1748) passed, likely due to complications tied to the birth of her final child, Lucy, who would eventually die at age two. Two other children of Thomas and Martha Jefferson also died in infancy (Jane in 1775 and Peter in 1777). The couple did have two daughters who lived into adulthood: Martha “Patsy” Randolph (1772-1846) and Mary “Polly” Eppes (1778-1804).
So I recently received an interesting phone call from my longtime barber, Lawrence Jesse, and wife Susan Reeder Jesse. Apparently a family friend of theirs dabbles in genealogy, and offered to do some family tree work for them.
Well, while researching back through Susan’s lineage, the researcher stumbled upon a very curious and interesting find in regard to Susan’s mother’s family, the Kehnes. It appears that Susan’s GG Grandfather, George Dallas Kehne (1850-1931), had a brother named Lewis Augustus Kehne (1840-1920). Both Kehne brothers emigrated to America (and Frederick, Maryland) in the early 1840s, coming with father Charles Frederick Kehne and mother Marie Delong from the highly contested Alsace region on the France and Germany border.
Of chief interest here is the wife of Frederick Augustus Kehne, one Ann Sophia Kehne, born May 19th, 1835. As the researcher dug a little further into information on this woman who made her home in Shookstown, northwest of today’s City of Frederick, something peculiarly interesting came to light.
Numerous books, as well as genealogical sources and family trees found on the internet showed that Ann Sophia Kehne was the granddaughter of our third U.S. President. That’s right, T.J., Thomas Jefferson! Best of all, for me, Ann Sophia Kehne is buried in Area H of Mount Olivet.
Susan Jesse went on to explain to me that her family researcher had found something even better—Ann Sophia’s mother is also buried here in the cemetery. I soon learned that mother and daughter are buried in the same plot—Area H/Lot 190. So, if true, this would make Ann Sophia Kehne the daughter of one of the earlier mentioned Jefferson daughters, right?
However, I seem to recall telling you that Mary “Polly” Eppes died in 1804, so I can rule her out. Martha “Patsy” Randolph (1772-1846) would have been 63 years old in childbirth with Ann Sophia in 1835, but that seems medically impossible. Hold the phone! I quickly learned that these two ladies are buried in Virginia, next to their father in Monticello Graveyard.
So how could a woman buried in Mount Olivet’s Area H/Lot 190, 132 miles away from Monticello, possibly be the daughter of the president? Talk about stumping the band? I was perplexed as Ann Sophia's mother, a woman named Harriet Heckman (1801-1870), would be the object of my new research quest. I quickly learned that I was not alone, as others have been trying to piece together this puzzle for well over a century.
I was able to study a few elements from the "back end" of this Harriet’s life with a firm connection to daughter Ann Sophia, and residency here in Frederick. She first appears in the 1850 census, living in Frederick City. My assistant Marilyn Veek found Harriet’s name in land and estate records but not much more is known of her humble, or not so humble, life. I could find nothing on her early days such as a birth/ baptismal or marriage record, maiden name, parents or siblings. Harriet Heckman's story seems to ooze secrecy— and was this by design? Whatever the case, I can’t definitively give you a final answer on her true life story from beginning to end at this time, but I can share facts, and I confidently feel that there is at least a 50% chance possibility that this Harriet Heckman could well be “The Other T.J.’s Other Daughter.”
Now let’s explain my use of “other daughter,” but before I do, maybe this would be a good time for you, the reader, to take a brief intermission. Walk around, check emails, grab a drink or a snack to eat, meditate, because I have just thrown at you an intriguing new, local history possibility (for Mount Olivet and Frederick) coupled with a great deal of genealogical data. Next up, I prepare to drop quite a bomb on you, so go ahead and take a break as I’ll wait. See you back here in a few.
So who is this woman named Harriet Heckman, mother of Ann Sophia (Heckman) Kehne and buried in Mount Olivet’s Area H/Lot 190, exactly fifty yards, and within plain eyesight, of Ann Jennings (Johnson) Grahame’s grave monument over in nearby Area A? Our records give us birth and death dates on Harriet, but nothing more. As for Ann Sophia, her original interment card from 1913 includes vital dates and the names of her parents, but this latter key piece of information was not written on the card until decades later, and in the hand of our cemetery superintendent, J. Ronald Pearcey.
You can clearly read above that which I saw a few weeks back in pulling this card— the names of George Heckman and Harriet Hemings, both written in pencil, along with a corrected birth date. Back to Ron Pearcey, who recently celebrated his 55th anniversary as an employee of this cemetery. His mind is sharper than most, however he can’t quite remember the circumstance in which he came upon this information. He is pretty sure a cemetery patron or family member gave it to him because it is written in his own handwriting and in pencil. He wonders if it was former genealogist Margaret Myers, a local legend in the field, who passed away back in 2009. Margaret contributed much to enhancing our records, but was she involved in this quest for this “Lost Ark of the Monticello Covenant?
Several biographies on Thomas Jefferson state that Martha Jefferson made a poignant request of her husband in her dying days. So that her children would not grow up with stepmothers, she had asked Thomas Jefferson to never marry again, and he never did. Her request has been said to have been attributed to her own disagreeable relationships with her step-mothers. Of particular note here, Martha had been married previously and widowed. Now at the time of her passing, she was 33, and Jefferson was 39.
Although Thomas Jefferson never married again, it’s known that he had additional children after Martha’s passing. The “baby-momma,” or mother, of these children was a mixed-race slave at Monticello named Sally Hemings. Sally originally came into Jefferson’s life as part of the dowry gained through marrying Martha. In fact, Sally Hemings also shared common blood with white counterpart Martha Jefferson. Both women could claim a common father, John Wayles (1715-1773), which made them biological step-sisters.
Sally Hemings was born about 1773 to Elizabeth (Betty) Hemmings (1735–1807), a woman also born into slavery. Sally's father doubled as their (Sally and Betty’s) master John Wayles. Betty's parents included another enslaved woman, a "full-blooded African,” and John Hemings, an English sea captain. So do we at Mount Olivet have yet another woman and generation of this family with mixed blood through a slave and master pairing?
Claims that Thomas Jefferson fathered Sally Hemings's children have been debated since 1802. That year, a gentleman named James T. Callender, after being denied a position as postmaster, alleged Jefferson had taken Hemings as a concubine and fathered several children with her. In 1998, a panel of researchers conducted a Y-DNA study of living descendants of Jefferson's uncle, Field, and of a descendant of Sally Hemings' son, Eston Hemings. The results, released in November 1998, showed a match with the male Jefferson line. Subsequently, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation formed a nine-member research team of historians to assess the matter. In January 2000 (revised 2011), a report concluded that "the DNA study ... indicates a high probability that Thomas Jefferson fathered Eston Hemings." The same report by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation also concluded that Jefferson likely fathered all of Heming's children listed at Monticello. A high degree of controversy surrounded this subject and how the results were interpreted.
In July 2017, the T.J. Foundation announced that archeological excavations at Monticello had revealed what they believe to have been Sally Hemings' quarters, adjacent to Jefferson's bedroom. In 2018, the this same group said that it considered the issue "a settled historical matter." Since the results of the DNA tests were made public, the consensus among academic historians has been that Jefferson had a sexual relationship with Sally Hemings and that he was the father of her son Eston Hemings.
Sally Hemings' documented duties at Monticello included being a nursemaid-companion, lady's maid, chambermaid, and seamstress. It is not known whether she was literate, and she left no known writings. She was described as very fair, with "straight hair down her back". Jefferson's grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, described her as "light colored and decidedly good looking." She is believed to have lived as an adult in a room in Monticello's "South Dependencies," a wing of the mansion accessible to the main house through a covered passageway.
One of the key informants on the subject was another alleged “lovechild” of Sally and Thomas Jefferson named Madison Hemings. In 1873, this man’s brief memoir was written and published. Excerpts appeared in newspapers across the country. According to Madison, his mother's (Sally's) first child, named Tom, died soon after her return from Paris in 1789. He notes that Sally Hemings gave birth to six children after her return to the United States and their complete names are, in some cases, uncertain:
Harriet Hemings (October 5, 1795 – December 7, 1797)
Beverley Hemings, possibly William Beverley Hemings (April 1, 1798 – after 1873)
Daughter, possibly named Thenia Hemings after Sally's sister (born in 1799 and died in infancy)
*Harriet Hemings [II] (May 22, 1801 – Unknown)
Madison Hemings, possibly James Madison Hemings (January 19, 1805 – 1877)
Eston Hemings, possibly named Thomas Eston Hemings (May 21, 1808 – 1856)
Jefferson recorded slave births in his Farm Book. Unlike his practice in recording births of other slaves, he did not note the father of Sally Hemings' children. Sally Hemings never married. As a slave, she could not have a marriage recognized under Virginia law, but many slaves at Monticello are known to have taken partners in common-law marriages and had stable lives. No such partnership of Hemings is noted in the records. She also kept her children close by while she worked at Monticello.
According to Madison, while young, the Hemings children "were permitted to stay about the 'great house', and only required to do such light work as going on errands.” At the age of 14, each of the children began their training: the brothers with the plantation's skilled master of carpentry, and Harriet as a spinner and weaver. The three boys all learned to play the violin, which Jefferson himself played.
Harriet Hemings, oldest surviving daughter of Sally Hemings does not have a known burial place—or does she?
So let’s zero in on our mystery women named Harriet, both at Monticello and here in Mount Olivet. Information is known on Harriet Hemings’ early life, but not her later life. As I said, we know of Harriet Heckman’s later life but nothing of her younger life. This is a clue to me that there is a possibility, not so far-fetched, both of these "Harriet" puzzle pieces may fit together.
In 1822, Harriet Hemings’ older brother, Beverley, age 24, "ran away" from Monticello and was not pursued. His destination was Washington, DC. Harriet Hemings, then 21, followed in the same year, apparently with at least “tacit” permission from her parents, Sally and Thomas Jefferson. The plantation overseer, Edmund Bacon, later stated that he had given Harriet $50 ($1,067 in current dollars) and put her on a stagecoach to the North, presumably to join her older brother in Washington, DC. In his memoir, published posthumously, Mr. Bacon said Harriet was "near white and very beautiful", and that people said Jefferson freed her because she was his daughter.
Let’s go back to Madison Hemmings’ memoir written in 1873, and see what he had to say of his absconding older siblings:
“Beverly left Monticello and went to Washington as a white man. He married a white woman in Maryland, and their only child, a daughter, was not known by the white folks to have any colored blood coursing in her veins. Beverly's wife's family were people in good circumstances.
Harriet married a white man in good standing in Washington City, whose name I could give, but will not, for prudential reasons. She raised a family of children, and so far as I know they were never suspected of being tainted with African blood in the community where she lived or lives. I have not heard from her for ten years, and do not know whether she is dead or alive. She thought it to her interest, on going to Washington, to assume the role of a white woman, and by her dress and conduct as such I am not aware that her identity as Harriet Hemings of Monticello has ever been discovered.”
Jefferson formally freed only two slaves while he was living: Sally Hemings’ older brothers Robert, who had to buy his freedom, and James, who was required to train his brother Peter for three years to get his freedom. Jefferson eventually (primarily posthumously, through his will) freed all of Sally's surviving children, Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston, as they came of age. (Harriet was the only female slave Jefferson allowed to go free.) Of the hundreds of enslaved individuals he legally owned, Jefferson freed only these members tied to the Hemings family. Sally Hemings' children were seven-eighths European in ancestry genetic makeup, and three of the four entered white society after gaining their freedom. Their descendants likewise identified as white. Lastly, Jefferson’s will also petitioned the legislature to allow the freed Hemings family members to stay in the state of Virginia.
An interesting miniature portrait sold on eBay in 2012 which was said to be of Harriet Hemings. One of the papers inside the piece indicates the subject as "Harriett Hemings", president Thomas Jefferson had two daughter's with his slave Sally Hemings, named Harriett, one dying shortly after birth, and the other, often known as "Harriet II", was born at Monticello in 1801 and was known to be working in the textile factory by age 14. It was well known that she was very light skinned and could "pass for white". The interesting thing here that the artist truthfully portrayed was that although she had very light skin, she still had African American features.
After Thomas Jefferson's death, although not formally manumitted, Sally Hemings was allowed, by Jefferson's daughter Martha, to live in Charlottesville as a free woman with her two sons until her death in 1835. The early Monticello Association however refused to allow Sally Hemings' descendants the right of burial at Monticello.
So, the later life whereabouts of Harriet Hemings is quite a story and mystery unto itself. This woman appears to have vanished into thin air, or at least into Maryland as some sources contend at a time period in the late 1840s. Madison Hemings added knew the answer of her husband’s name, but declined to offer it up in public to protect her secret. He did give us a clue that he thought she possibly died between 1863-1873 because he hadn’t heard from her in ten years.
Again, let me reiterate the fact that researchers, historians, authors and genealogists more talented than I have been searching high and low for Harriet Hemings for quite some time. It is great news to us that some of these folks have proposed that she disappeared to Frederick and is buried in Mount Olivet. I then ask the question: Why is this not a possibility? I remember moving to Frederick in 1974, and a popular bumper sticker that could be found here read: “Frederick, Maryland—Away from the Maddening Crowd.” I’m sure the sentiment was even more the case back around 1848.
Instead of insisting that Harriet Heckman could be the former Harriet Hemings, I will take the approach of trying to find out who “our Harriet Heckman” was, based on the local records at hand, and exhaustive searches of newspapers, census records and family tree info. I also called on some of my colleagues for their expertise: Ron Pearcey, Marilyn Veek and Marcia Hahn.
I've been trying to find anything pertaining to a family named Heckman, supposed in-laws of the Harriet we have lying in Area H. All I can go on here at the cemetery is that interment card that Ron completed with the names of the parents of Ann Sophia (Heckman) Kehne. On this it gave the name of Harriet Hemings and spouse George Heckman as I said earlier. Our interment book also proves that Mrs. Heckman is Mr. Kehne’s mother-in-law at the time of her death in 1870.
Unfortunately, there is no George Heckman here in Mount Olivet. The same holds true for his name being absent in the burial records of Frederick’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. I’ve only run across this name of George Heckman as being married to Harriet Heckman in other books and online family trees stating a potential spouse for Harriet Hemings. Marcia Hahn, however came up with multiple references to a Frederick City Heckman family of the late 1700s and 1800s that connect to Harriet and Ann Sophia, but no records on a “George Heckman,” only a Johann George Heckman that died in 1787 at the age of one.
I did find a G. Heckman as head of household in the 1810 US Census living here in Frederick County. He was between 16-25 and was co-habitating or married to a female of the same age range. This woman could not be either of our "Harriets" born in 1801, however. It is an interesting find, but one that needs more work. I think this fellow resided in northern Frederick County, and will revisit at end of this story.
So outside of Harriet Heckman’s given birth date in our records of February 6th, 1801, I’m forced to start at Ms. Heckman’s true end of life (February 26th, 1870) and make my attempt to go backwards. This date is only slightly different than the May, 1801 date that the Monticello Foundation has in their records for Harriet Hemings’ birth, but it is pretty darn close, but I digress. Once again, on our interment card for Harriet, we don’t have parents listed for Harriet, but Ron had written in a spouse named Christopher Heckman, but not George.
Marilyn Veek presented me with a copy of Harriet Heckman’s will dated March 3rd, 1870. Ann Sophia Kehne was her executor. It was nice to read Harriet’s own words and yes I did make note to look if she had indeed signed her last will and testament and not simply left a mark, like a majority women of her time period.
A brief obituary appeared in the local paper at the time of her death reveals little about the woman.
I did read that Ann Sophia was a loyal member of Frederick’s Evangelical Lutheran Church dating back to younger years. This got me thinking that if anything, Harriet Hemings would have been introduced to the Protestant-Episcopal religion at Monticello, but I think Thomas Jefferson was more philosophical than religious. My mind began suggesting that a smarter choice for a mixed-race individual, hoping to blend into white society, would be a person of German heritage, instead of one of English ancestry. Above all, this thought was grounded in the fact that slavery was less practiced by Germans here in earlier days, in favor of the family farm construct. The slave plantation was introduced by English and Scottish families. This holds true here in Maryland and our neighbors above and below.
In addition, another ethnonym found in genealogy involves the notion of the “Black Dutch” of the early 19th century. These were dark-complected people of German, European or even Native-American descent. This would be a safer route compared to marrying into a high-brow, socialite with nosey family members asking you to prove your heritage for social standing purposes.
Harriet Heckman appears in both the 1860 and 1850 US census records. She died shortly before the 1870 census was taken. In both records found, she is inferred to be widowed, while Maryland is given as her place of birth. She is also shown to have valued real estate in her name, a rarity for most people of this period.
Examining the 1860 household, Ann Sophia can be found living with her mother, now being 24 years of age. It appears that the Heckmans have boarders, a family by the name of Weddle. The Williams’ Frederick Directory City Guide and Business Mirror of 1859-’60 lists Mrs. Harriet Heckman living on the northside of East 3rd Street between Middle Alley and Chapel Alley. Harriett bought this property, now 125-127 East Third Street, in 1854, and willed it to her daughter (Ann Sophia Kehne). Kehne sold it in 1897 (Note: the houses currently there today are estimated at 1900 and 1901 in tax records, so most likely not the ones in which Harriett and Ann lived).
Unfortunately, I found next to nothing in the vintage newspapers I have at my disposal. However, it would make sense for a person wanting to keep a low profile to keep their head down. The 1850 census was my best opportunity to glean anything. It did not disappoint, but I did find that Harriet and Ann Sophia were living separately.
Harriet is living with a woman named Margaret Lewis (age 40), formerly Margaret Ogle and widowed wife of an Isaac Lewis, a man born in 1808 in Washington DC, who died in Frederick in 1838. Step son of Michael Lambrecht. Mr. Lewis is buried in the Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery, however Margaret is buried in Mount Olivet. The couples’ two teenage boys, William and Charles, are living here as well. One more person can be found living here in 1850—65 year-old Sophia Gavier, or at least that is the way the name is transcribed by Ancestry.com. I would soon have a connection to the name Heckman when I learned that this was Sophia Gavier’s maiden name. More in a moment on that point.
Meanwhile, Harriet’s daughter (and Ms. Gavier’s probable namesake), Ann Sophia Heckman, was living with the Harrison Conley family of Frederick. Harrison was a cooper and perhaps Ann Sophia (then 14) was helping with the family’s business, or was simply pawned off to because there was no more room at the Lewis residence. I am quite perplexed, but continue to think that the Harrisons could have been relatives of family friends, something I have not ascertained as of yet. Mrs. Conley was the former Rosanna E. Schell, perhaps a stronger candidate to have a familial connection to Ann Sophia and Harriet. One more person living here at this residence located on East Patrick Street, is Mary M.M. Schell (age 40).
I have come up empty in trying to find any mention of Harriet Heckman in Frederick prior to this 1850 census. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has also restricted me from thoroughly researching local Frederick Town Herald newspapers of the 1830s and 1840s which I would love to do. My assumption is that Harriet is clearly widowed by 1850, and perhaps moved to Frederick from elsewhere upon her husband’s death. I have not been able to find either Harriet or George Heckman in the 1840 census as I had hoped to find either living in Frederick or perhaps Washington, DC with 5-year-old daughter Ann Sophia (born 1835).
I assume the family lived elsewhere, because I have not found church records pertaining to Harriet’s marriage, Ann Sophia’s birth/baptism or George’s death. A proposed narrative would feature Harriet living in Washington (or elsewhere in Maryland) and meeting “a Mr. Heckman” (whether it be George or something else) in the early 1830s. The couple marries, and Ann Sophia is born in 1835. Mr. Heckman dies (sometime over the 15-year span (1835-1850). I saw two references in online trees that conjectured “George Heckman” dying in 1838 and another in 1848. Either way, this would precipitate a move, to Frederick, by the widowed Harriet in hopes to gain support of family or by the urging of family.
Sophia Gavier, who was worthy of Harriet naming her daughter after, would be that key support system, especially due to the fact that her own husband (George Geweyer) died in 1826, just three years after her marriage. Jacob Engelbrecht spelled the couple’s last name “Geweyer” in his diary, so it’s still not certain as to the official spelling as it could be Geyer or Gaver, or any slight variation from this.
As an aside, Sophia and George Gavier/Geweyer were married at Frederick’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, and thanks to Mr. Engelbrecht, we have a record of him being buried in the old graveyard behind the church. Another one of the challenges with this particular research project involves others buried in the Evangelical Lutheran Graveyard. Marcia Hahn informed me that there is a gap in the death/burial records as nothing was recorded from August 1807 through February, 1837. That’s a problem if the mysterious George Heckman died between 1835 and 1837, but anytime afterwards he would have been recorded if he died and was buried here in Frederick, and if he was a member of this church along with the rest of his family.
Heckman Family of Frederick
As for a legitimate Frederick Heckman family, I found a definitive match, with the notable exception of a George as I mentioned earlier. They derive from a German immigrant named Christopher Heckman (1752-1828). Actually, this “Herr Heckman” did not come to Frederick by choice, but rather as a prisoner. He served as a mercenary, or Hessian, soldier during the American Revolution. He was captured at Yorktown, marched to Frederick, and imprisoned at the aptly named Hessian Barracks, today on the grounds of Maryland School for the Deaf.
Upon his release in 1783, he, like many other Hessians, decided to stay in Frederick rather than return to Germany. He soon married Christina Davis January 24th, 1786 as both appear as members of Frederick’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. Baptismal records show a daughter, Christina, born later that year on November 26th, 1786.
A son Johann George, mentioned earlier, was born to this couple on June 9th, 1788, but died on September 23rd, 1788 and is buried in the church graveyard. A second daughter Anna Catharina was born August 5th, 1789, but died just over two weeks later on August 22nd, 1789. She too was buried in Evangelical Lutheran’s graveyard.
The historic church also has records for two other Heckman children: Johannes Casper and Maria Sophia. Johannes Casper was born September 18th, 1792. Like sister Christina, this is our only mention of him as he didn’t marry later in this church. No record of burial, but if his death occurred between 1807-1837, perhaps he could be resting in peace here without a stone. I want to put an asterisk next to this individual’s name as a possible “person of genealogical interest.” Could this be Harriet’s “George?”
Maria Sophia Heckman has been previously introduced, and better known to us as Sophia (Heckman) Gavier/Geweyer. She was born May 17th, 1795. Her marriage was recorded as December 21st, 1823. She died sometime before 1860 and is most likely buried with her husband as she doesn’t appear in our Mount Olivet records. Surprisingly, Marcia couldn’t find her in the records of Evangelical Lutheran which is odd.
Let’s briefly get back to family progenitor Christopher Heckman for a minute. His wife Christina died in 1810. He then married another woman, a widow named Catherine Ely who was a member of Frederick’s German Reformed congregation. No children were recorded as part of this union.
Jacob Engelbrecht recorded Christopher Heckman’s death in his diary on September 16th, 1828:
“Died last night or this morning in the 76th year of his age Mr. Christopher Heckman one of the Revolutionary soldiers who came to America from Germany in the Hessian Regiments. Buried on the Lutheran graveyard though he is a member of the German Reformed Church. His wife being buried there & his children being members of the Lutheran Church.”
My colleague Marilyn Veek stumbled upon a few important tidbits, but unfortunately a will from Christopher Heckman was not one of them. She found two property deeds that indicated that Mr. Heckman had left property in his will, but could not find such document in Frederick County’s records. In one of these deeds, she found a very interesting sentence pertaining to property that would later be associated with Harriet Heckman. Apparently, Sophia Gavier/Geweyer inherited 1/4 of lot at 101 East Second Street (now 105 East Second) from Christopher Heckman. Sophia willed her interest to "my sister Harriet" in 1850. Harriet sold this property in 1854 (Note: the house currently at that address is estimated at 1880 in tax records), but this gesture (by Sophia) gives me overwhelming reason to view Harriet as a bonafide relative to Sophia. I do not think she meant “sister” in the biological sense, but rather in the vein of “sister-in-law.”
Since Sophia makes this statement, I view Harriet as the daughter-in-law of Christopher Heckman, whether they ever met in real life or not. Harriet married Christopher’s son, perhaps after his death. However, all I can find through a viable search of church records is the existence of a Johannes Casper Heckman (b. 1792). It’s conceivable that he married Harriet, but what happened to him, and did he ever go by the name George? Or is the whole George name irrelevant?
What’s in a Name?
Well, I did find some other George Heckmans of the period in question who seemed remote possibilities. I found a will for a William Heckman of Frederick County whose executor in 1841 was his son named George Heckman of Franklin County, Pennsylvania. George sold William's property, located on the road from Emmitsburg to Frederick, in 1842. The man in question seems to have lived in the Emmitsburg area, just north of Mount St. Mary’s University. I saw a Frederick County Equity case from 1830 involving Troxalls (living a mile south of Emmitsburg) and it was stated that a George Heckman was currently renting a property. I found this George in the 1830 census and noticed he was living in close proximity to a few free Black residents residing in that area, which heightened my curiosity.
My assistant Marilyn searched but did not find any deeds in which George Heckman bought real property. In1828, he sold livestock, farm tools and household goods. In 1832, he bought livestock, farm tools and household goods (from a different person) and in 1834 he sold to Felix B. Taney his grain crops from 90 acres "now in my possession". It seems, George was farming on his father's property. This rules out my theory of Harriet being married to this gentleman, while being a daughter-in-law to Christopher Heckman and sister-in-law to Sophia Heckman Gavier/Geweyer.
In the case of Harriet Hemings being Harriet Heckman, there is mentioned another possible Pennsylvania connection. Some think that Harriet Hemings' husband was a George Heckman, native of Philadelphia, and born in 1800. These sources state that the couple lived in Washington DC, Philadelphia, or both. They cite an individual named George M. Heckman whose burial site can be found on the popular Findagrave.com. This George Heckman is buried in Philadelphia's historic Laurel Hill Cemetery. His stone includes a death date of December 1849 but no discernible birth date. However, in Ancestry.com, I found a George M. Heckman born about 1787 and died September 11th, 1849, but no cemetery listed other than "a Philadelphia Cemetery."
A little research on my part found that this man had the position as "a grain measurer" Philadelphia during his lifetime, a pretty good job. He was originally buried in Ronaldson’s Cemetery, which was obliterated in 1950, at which time bodies were reinterred in other cemeteries in the Philadelphia area. George’s stone reads that a daughter Mary Lee Heckman, who died before him, is also buried with him. In researching further, it didn’t seem as if this man had Maryland roots, or any connection to Christopher Heckman. His family members were from the greater Philadelphia area and New Jersey.
I found news of this horrific accident which occurred in Pennsylvania in papers all over in 1843. You have a man named George Heckman dying of injuries sustained. I haven't been able to make a connection to a family based on the nature of a railroad locomotive operator's nomadic nature. I wouldn't think this would be our George, as it also seems to call for a home residence in eastern Pennsylvania. You never know, though.
Back to that story of Harriet Hemings. She went to Washington, DC aboard a stagecoach in1823 and is said to have married George Heckman and began raising a family as she had passed into white society as a free woman. It’s been said that this woman apparently fell off the face of the Earth in the late 1840s. Later in life, her brother stated that she lived out her life in Maryland, but no sign of where. She likely died around 1870, the time of Madison Hemings’ memoirs. Hmmmmmm.
The Monticello Society has done research and are obviously aware of the potential Kehne connection but have discounted this on grounds of not having DNA evidence. In accordance with the US Presidents Project, the relationship of President Jefferson to George Heckman, Anna Sophia (Heckman) Kehne and Mount Olivet have been disconnected by a leading genealogist at Wiki Tree.
Oh Johann Casper Heckman, what ever became of you, my friend? Looks like I may have to bring Henry Louis Gates, Jr. into the fold as my next step. Thanks for sticking with me on this unfinished odyssey.
To be continued.....
Note: Special thanks to Susan Reeder Jesse for sharing this story with the author.
William Murdoch Beall—now there’s a name that should have stuck with me after first seeing it in print over 25 years ago in a local used bookstore. Sadly, it made a brief impression on my eyes and went in “one ear and out the other.” Yesterday, I found myself standing face to face with his grave monument located in Mount Olivet’s Area F. However, I was now fully aware with my senses and even able to put a face with this monument, a unique accomplishment because this man died in 1847.
A few weeks back on a snowy January day spent at home, I found myself organizing, and re-arranging, some of my vast collection of old history books and publications. I stumbled upon several vintage editions of The Maryland Historical Magazine, an offering that has been published quarterly by the Museum and Library of Maryland History of the Maryland Historical Society. The several, paper-bound volumes I own vary in date and range from throughout the entirety of the 20th century.
I happened across Volume 80, Number 2 dating from the summer of 1985, an especially interesting time for me as it marked the educational life bridge between my graduation from Gov. Thomas Johnson High School in May, and the start of my collegiate experience at the University of Delaware beginning the following September.
I did not obtain this magazine at that time (summer 1985) as I knew very little of Frederick’s history, and was too busy in other pursuits as I was heading to college. However, things were drastically different a decade later as I was actively producing local history documentaries for my employer (Frederick Cablevision) about our county and county seat.
This periodical fell into my hands as part of a larger purchase of a smattering of like editions featuring stories with unique connections to Frederick history. In this particular case, the magazine in question included some interesting Black history articles which caught my eye because I was currently working on my documentary Up From the Meadows: A History of Black Americans in Frederick County, Maryland. There was also an interesting Civil War offering in this edition, but the one that most intrigued me was an article entitled Letters to and from Frederick, Maryland, 1833-1848. It was written by Alexandria Lee Levin—more on her in a moment.
Before I recount that which I’ve learned about the fore-mentioned Mr. Beall and the content of some of his family letters, I performed an internet search on the article’s author. I soon learned that she was a direct descendant of our subject—a great-granddaughter. This woman, Alexandra Lee Levin, lived in Pikesville at the time of her passing in 1997, just one year after I purchased the historical magazine. Ms. Levin was also a descendant of the famous Lee family of Virginia, and had died of Lou Gehrig's disease, at the age of 84.
Alexandra Lee Levin was a self-taught writer, whose family history provided material for some of her own published works. She was a prolific contributor to the Baltimore Evening Sun op-ed page and other publications, including American Heritage, the Maryland Historical Society Magazine and the Jewish Historical Society journal. An obituary in the Baltimore Sun reported that Ms. Levin made some interesting discoveries in the basement of her former home in Forest Park. Here, in a few battered trunks, the author found a treasure trove of old family letters, which painted vivid pictures of the life and times of ancestors past. Among these, were nearly 100 letters by Enoch Pratt, the benefactor of Baltimore's public library system. Apparently, the trunk's contents had not been examined since1906 and had been largely forgotten.
The Pratt letters included one written to Ms. Levin's great-grandfather, John Knight, a Natchez, Mississippi cotton and hardware merchant. This is very pertinent because I wrote a story involving a wealthy planter named John Knight (1806-1864)back in July of 2017 entitled “Breakfast at Tiffany’s….or McDannold’s.” This tale remains one of my favorite stories written as it involved the untimely death of Mr. Knight’s grandson, John Knight McDannold (b. 1874) who died of pneumonia (in Savannah, Georgia) in early February, 1899 while en-route to Cuba with a friend. McDannold’s grandmother, Frances “Fannie” Zeruiah (Beall) Knight (1813-1900), placed a large Celtic Cross monument on his grave, made by the famed Tiffany’s of New York.
Before I get to Mr. William Murdoch Beall in earnest, I will review what I learned back in 2017 regarding his daughter Frances “Fannie” Zeruiah (Beall) Knight from writing my earlier “Story in Stone” piece. First things first, the name Beall is pronounced "bell." Fannie was born in Frederick County in 1813, the daughter of a county sheriff hailing from the Urbana area. Mrs. Beall’s grandfather, Elisha Beall (1745-1831), was a veteran of the Revolutionary War—serving as a lieutenant in the Maryland battalion of the Flying Camp under Capt. Reazin Beall at the Battle of Long Island. His home, named Boxwood Lodge, still stands north of Urbana along MD355.
Mrs. Knight was supplied with a hefty inheritance left by her late husband, John Knight, a successful merchant. John Knight was originally from Frederick, but moved to Indiana with his family when he was ten. His father (Elijah) died that same year (around 1816), and his mother (Sarah Dix) followed suit three years later. He instantly became responsible for six little siblings. Eventually, Knight flew the coop, hiked to Cincinnati on his own, and apprenticed in the printing trade.
At 19, John Knight went to Natchez, Mississippi and made a fortune as a cotton plantation owner and merchant, operating a hardware store. The young man came back to Frederick in 1833 and took a cousin, Fanny Beall, as his bride. Fannie’s parents (William Murdoch and Fannie (McCleery) Beall) were Mr. Knight’s aunt and uncle on his mother’s side. Yes, these lovebirds were also first cousins.
Two sons were born to the Knight couple in 1834 and 1835 respectively, but both died in the years following their birth. The Knights, likely devastated with grief, returned to Mississippi where their daughter Frances (Knight) McDannold (John and Alexandra’s mother) was born.
Mrs. Knight would keep multiple residences and continued traveling, but utilized Frederick as her home base. Her permanent winter residence was located at 217 East 2nd Street. It is here where the McDannold children came to live in the mid-1880s from New York City after being orphaned by the premature deaths of their parents.
William Murdoch Beall
William Murdoch Beall was born March 16th, 1789 to Rev-War veteran Elisha Beall and wife Jane Perry. Elisha’s father, Nathaniel Beall, was one of the first inhabitants in the area of Urbana, and built a log cabin structure here on the property. The cabin was later supplanted by a stone masonry house around 1810, and named Boxwood Lodge. The house still stands today on the east side of Urbana Pike, sandwiched in between the Villages of Urbana and the Urbana District Park where my boys played many a flag-football games through the Frederick County Parks & Recreation program. Elisha died in 1831 and in his will gave his third son, William Murdoch, 131 acres of his property including the stone dwelling house.
William Murdoch Beall is said to have been “a man of standing” in the Frederick Community. Elected one of the managers of the Farmers & Mechanics Bank when it opened in 1817, he rose in rank to become cashier, second only to the bank’s president, Dr. William Tyler. The bank was located on the northeast corner of North Market and East 2nd Street.
The family owned the farm in Urbana, but their primary residence was in Frederick and actually next to Mr. Beall's workplace. The Beall's lived in a house at the north corner of N. Market Street and Market Space. The former location of the home is today the alley adjacent Brewer's Alley restaurant that leads back to a parking deck and additional parking spots and a restaurant in Market Space. The home had come through inheritance and trusts from Andrew McCleery, Mrs. Beall's grandfather.
Ms. Alexandra Lee Levin gives us a glimpse of William M. Beall’s family by relaying the contents of a letter written in July, 1833 regarding the marriage of Mr. Beall’s daughter Fannie who I introduced to you earlier. The occasion was her marriage to John Knight on July 16th, 1833 as it was the social event of season. Apparently the guest list had to be “drastically curtailed” according to Ms. Levin as she transcribed content from a letter written by Fannie’s sister, Jane Mary Ann Beall Pettit, who had traveled from her home in Cumberland for the special occasion.
Among the guests who made the cut for this wedding (held at the Beall residence), was Fannie’s maternal aunt, Zeruiah McCleery Knox, widow of Rev. Samuel K. Knox who had died the previous year. Dr. Knox was the first principal of Frederick College, aka “the old Academy” once located on Council Street adjacent Court House Square. (See earlier story from May, 2020 entitled "Fort Knox.")
Mrs. Pettit penned the letter to her husband, Henry McEwan Pettit, in which she recounted the joyous event. (Note: At the outset of the letter, Ms. Levin learned that the writer had taken ill, and had retired to her bedroom early.)
“Frances looked lovely in her white dress, white satin slippers, and lace veil. She carried a Berlin-work beaded bag and a handsome fan. There were no females out of the family except Mrs. William Tyler and Mrs. Samuel Tyler. Mr. Smith married them. There was pretty much a squeeze. All kinds of refreshments were provided in abundance, but no supper. The noise disturbed me until one o’clock when the house was finally still. I fell asleep and was awakened between one and two o’clock by music—they were serenading Frances—a clarinet and flute accompanied by two voices. They first played the “Arab’s Daughter.” The bride and groom left in the nine o’ clock car for Baltimore on their way to New York, where they will stay three weeks.”
Interestingly, more on the Knight newlyweds was shared in another letter as they returned to Frederick (from New York) and had a harrowing trek to Mr. Knight’s home in Mississippi. Some of the journey utilized the relatively new National Pike as the couple traveled by stagecoach and likely visited the Pettits on their way through Cumberland. The letter states:
“The coaching agent had promised them the very best vehicles and horses throughout the entire route (to Cincinnati), but they were consistently put into old coaches with broken down or unmanageable horses. This resulted in continual delays plus a bruising upset at the foot of Sideling Hill, the exceedingly steep grade midway between Hagerstown and Cumberland. It was with relief that they finally reached Cincinnati where they took a boat for Louisville. They would arrive safely at Natchez on September 24th, 1833.”
I assume the Bealls visited the Knights in Natchez at some point as there are letters talking of trips by other family members. One such was sent by Frances (McCleery) Beall to her sister, the previously mentioned Zeruiah (McCleery) Knox, who at the time received the letter while visiting her niece in Mississippi. The highlight of this letter came in Mrs. Beall saying that she had recently persuaded her husband to forego his favorite sport of betting on gamecock fights in town, and he, in turn, had requested her to give up taking snuff.
William Murdoch Beall was a delegate of the Jackson Convention held in Baltimore in 1827 and served as Secretary. Ms. Levin uncovered some letters that exemplified Mr. Beall’s connection to Andrew Jackson and the forementioned convention’s chief organizer, a Frederick lawyer named Roger Brooke Taney:
“A staunch Jackson man, William M. Beall counted as his oldest and best friend Roger Brooke Taney. On August 5, 1834, Roger Brooke Taney and his brother-in-law, Francis Scott Key, spent the night at the Beall home. The following day an escort of over one hundred persons, mounted on horseback, turned out in Frederick to meet Taney, a distinguished former resident of town, and conducted him to a dinner given in his honor.
This banquet took place at Courthouse Square, site of today’s Frederick City Hall. Another family connection comes into play here as the courthouse itself had been designed in 1785 by architect Henry McCleery, Mr. Beall's father-in-law.
A book published in 1967 to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of F & M Bank includes an interesting anecdote and letter from 1833 involving friends Beall and Taney. First a little context as Roger Brooke Taney entered President Jackson's Cabinet as Attorney General in 1831 and was Jackson's legal advisor during the President's crusade against the Second Bank of the United States. After Jackson was reelected in 1832, Taney advised him to withdraw the Government's deposits from the Bank. When Treasury Secretary Duane refused to do so, Jackson named Taney Acting Secretary in his stead. Taney's appointment was never confirmed by Congress, but during his nine months as Acting Secretary he transferred the Government's deposits from the Second Bank to designated commercial banks throughout the country. On October 15th, 1833, Taney wrote to William M. Beall:
My dear Sir:
After congratulating you most sincerely on the result of the elections. I have to thank you and our friend Schley...for the kind vindication of me which appeared in the Herald...the people appear tp be ratifying most triumphantly the removal of the deposits—and it bids fair I think to be one of the most popular acts of the administration...made the currency more sound and healthful than it was before by compelling the Bank of the U. States to honor the notes of its distant branches...It is I think the final blow to the Bank of the U. States and its dissolution at the end of its charter is now inevitable.
But to leave politics and come to humbler subjects—If you meet with a cow that is really a good one give a liberal price if necessary. My object is to get a good one and I leave it entirely to your judgement what price ought to be given—I shall be entirely satisfied with what you do—and obliged by the trouble you take--
I am dear Sir truly your friend,
R. B. Taney
Ms. Levin in her article continues with another story:
“When Taney became Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, the second letter he wrote after hearing of his confirmation by the Senate was to Beall on March 23, 1836. His first letter was to President Andrew Jackson.
In March 1837 ex-President Jackson set out on his homeward journey to his residence, The Hermitage, near Nashville, Tennessee. Two days after Martin Van Buren took office on March 4, Jackson boarded the steam cars of the B&O which conveyed him to the western terminus of the railroad at Ellicott’s Mills. From thence he was to (stage) coach to Wheeling. William M. Beall, Dr. William Tyler, and Judge Abram Shriver were chosen to greet him as he passed through Frederick. Taney accompanied Jackson to Frederick and introduced the Beall family to the old general.
The Beall’s youngest daughter, Martha (b. 1820), remained with her parents until her marriage in January, 1842 to Samuel Hunt, formerly of Frederick but then a prospering leather goods merchant in Baltimore. (She would live out the rest of her life in Charm City, dying in 1891 and buried in Greenmount Cemetery.)
The empty-nester Bealls soon became the focal point of a very special present concocted a few months later for daughter Fannie, all courtesy of son-in-law John Knight.
As part of an annual buying tour for his Natchez store, John Knight found himself in New York City in August of 1842. While there, he wanted to obtain a very special gift for wife. He sought out a noted portrait artist by the name of Edward Dalton Marchant (1806-1887), originally from Massachusetts. Largely self-taught, Marchant began his career as a house painter, but eventually set up a portrait studio in his hometown of Edgarton. He is known to have studied briefly with artist Gilbert Stuart in Boston in 1825, familiarizing himself with the artist's style.
Marchant began a career as a journeyman artist by late 1826, advertising his services (of painting prominent citizens) as far away as Charleston, South Carolina. He would relocate to New York City after 1832, completing many portraits of well-to-do merchants and political leaders during the 1830s and 1840s.
In a letter dated August 15th, 1842, John Knight notified Mr. and Mrs. Beall that he had hired Marchant to paint their portraits, one hand each, for the price of $250. The artist’s room and board would be supplied by the Bealls while he worked on location here in Frederick to complete the contract. Mr. Beall wrote to Knight five weeks later on September 21st:
Mr. Marchant arrived here on the 5th and commenced operations the next day, finishing the pictures on the 17th. He stayed at our house whilst he was in our city. He left this morning for Baltimore after tendering your Aunt Beall and myself many thanks for our kindness to him. We were both pleased with him and found him a modest, unassuming, and intelligent gentleman. When Mr. Thompson (Jerome B. Thompson)an artist who is painting in Frederick now, heard that you had selected Mr. M. he said he was astonished at your sending him, and that if you had selected Page (William Page) or Henderson (David English Henderson) you would most certainly have obtained good likenesses and fine painters. He thinks Marchant cannot paint, and that his pictures are gaudy. I, however, found Marchant remarkably sensitive, and these remarks of Thompson annoyed him excessively, saying that Thompson, in his opinion, was a strange fish and wholly irresponsible, and was so considered by all who knew him.
Marchant was about seven days engaged at my portrait. He says it was one of the most troublesome he ever took, owing to the variability of my countenance. Your Aunt’s was completed in about three days, as he had but little trouble with hers in consequence of the uniformity of her face. He has given mine a serious, contemplative cast, or shall I say, a business expression, which he supposed would be more pleasing to you and would wear better than a smile. The eyebrows are consequently somewhat contracted and there is some little severity indicated in the expression, but he has painted me faithfully, for when my mind is engaged, my appearance is almost invariably austere and repulsive, yet the lips exhibit a sufficient degree of pleasantry to counteract the severity of the brows.
Your Aunt’s is amiability itself, consequently most accurately taken, for a sweeter woman does not live on this earth. On one side of my canvas he has an inkstand with two pens and several packages of papers sealed up, indicative of my profession. On your Aunt’s he has a Bible in front of her on a stand, with a small slip of white paper projecting, showing the place where she had been reading. While sitting, I wore my winter clothing, blue coat and blue-black velvet vest, while your Aunt wore her blue-black silk dress, crimped collar, a gauze scarf, and cap of Irish gauze with long tabs. Her left arm is resting on the top of the chair with the hand hanging down, the veins on the back of the hand painted to the life. He has given me an excellent forehead, better than I supposed I possessed; Marchant, however, says not.
The pictures produced considerable excitement and about seventy people visited here to see them. Some say that my likeness is good and your Aunt’s couldn’t be better, while others say the reverse. As evidence that they are both good, I will say that all the children in the neighborhood knew who they were in a minute they laid eyes on them.
Artist Thompson, who had been so contemptuous of Marchant, completed Miss Schley’s portrait a few days before Marchant finished his. Marchant took eleven days to do both of ours, while Thompson had spent three weeks on hers. I have seen her portrait, and you may rest assured that it bears no comparison to ours, for although she is a young, sprightly girl her picture does not exhibit one-fourth of the expression that ours do, notwithstanding our being grandparents and plain people. In addition, his picture is gaudy.”
I’m assuming that Fannie enjoyed the portraits of her parents which made their way to Natchez and eventually would return to Frederick when she moved here after John’s death. As for the artist, Marchant is known to have completed commissions in several Ohio cities as well as in Nashville and New Orleans, before settling in Philadelphia in 1854 where he would remain for another thirty years. Although mostly known for his portraits in oil, Marchant also created miniatures, including a self-portrait of himself.
An ardent opponent of slavery who advocated for the return of slaves to Africa, Marchant was commissioned by the Union League of Philadelphia in December 1862 to paint a portrait of Abraham Lincoln to be displayed in Independence Hall. The artist worked in the White House for several months in early 1863, having daily contact with the President, and ultimately depicted him seated at a table having just signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
This was not the first US President to sit for the artist as E. D. Marchant also painted portraits of John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, plus was commissioned to paint a portrait of Congressman Henry Clay.
William Murdoch Beall died on April 23rd, 1847. Thankfully, his family had a professional likeness to remember him by. The Frederick Examiner newspaper eulogized Mr. Beall as:
"one of the most useful, energetic and valuable of our fellow citizens. He was a member of the electoral college for the State Senate, was Sheriff of the County, for many years Cashier of the Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Bank of Frederick County, and at the time of his death President of the Mutual Insurance Company of Frederick County. In all the relations of life, he was marked for his integrity, sound judgment, and solid worth.”
William Murdoch Beall was originally laid to rest in the burying ground of All Saints Episcopal Church, once located between Carroll Creek and East all Saints Street. His body was moved to Mount Olivet in 1856, two years after the cemetery opened. The family lot is Area F/Lots 54 and 55.
Mrs. Beall can be found as head of household in Frederick City in the 1850 Census, along with daughter Jane Mary Ann Pettit who had relocated from Cumberland after being widowed herself in 1847. Frances (McCleery) Beall died in 1852, and would also be buried twice, so to speak. Mrs. Beall's 1852 will left in trust to daughter Jane "the house now occupied by me as a dwelling and by J.J. and D. B. Hunt as a dry goods store." In 1857, Jane purchased the home on East 2nd Street, and would be joined there by sister Fannie Knight in the 1860s.
Jane (Beall) Pettit died in 1892, at which time she would be buried with her husband in the plot immediately behind her parents, and diagonally from John Knight who had been re-interred from France. Fannie Knight lived up through 1900.
Author's Note: The Knight Family papers can be found in a collection consisting of 13 boxes housed at the Duke University Library in Durham, North Carolina. Here is an abstract for the holding:
Correspondence, diaries and notebooks, financial papers, legal papers, genealogical documents, printed materials, and other materials pertain to the Knight family of Natchez, Mississippi and Frederick, Maryland. Materials in the collection date from 1784 to 1960, and the bulk date from the 1840s to the 1890s. The majority of the papers concern the personal, legal, and financial activities of John Knight (1806-1864), merchant, plantation owner, and investor; his wife Frances Z. S. (Beall) Knight (1813-1900); and their daughter Frances (Fanny) Beall Knight; as well as relatives, friends, and business partners, especially banker Enoch Pratt and William M. Beall. Significant topics include: life in Natchez, Mississippi and Frederick, Maryland; plantations, slaves, and slavery in Mississippi and other Southern states; 19th century economic conditions, especially concerning cotton, banking and bank failures; U.S. politics in the 1850s-1860s; the Civil War, especially in Maryland; cholera and yellow fever outbreaks; 19th century family life; and the family's travels to Europe, Russia, and other places from 1850 to 1864. Genealogies chiefly relate to the descendants of Elisha Beall of Maryland, and the McCleery, Pettit, and McLanahan families of Indiana and Maryland.
While on a trek through Mount Olivet a few weeks ago, my eye was caught by an interesting surname that I hadn’t seen before—Marble. Upon closer inspection, I noted that this was the grave marker of one Jesse H. Marble. I experienced a bit of difficulty attempting to read the vital information and other quotes found on the face of the “Marble” monument, and yes, I meant that to have a double meaning.
Those who are regular readers of my articles know that I am all about connections: family connections, connections to events in history, and oddball/pop culture connections as well. I also love to have fun with puns, as well as idioms, sarcasm and satire. So, I have been searching the internet in an effort of finding marble/cemetery outside of the most common one referring to the frequently used tombstone material —metamorphic rock formed when limestone is exposed to high temperatures and pressures.
For the most part, cemeteries all over can be described as “seas of marble and granite.” While I’m on the subject, I should share some of the differences between marble and granite. The following description comes from the website of one of our gravestone vendors:
"Marble is made from limestone, which is a type of sediment rock and contains calcium carbonate which reacts to acids. Marble is soft enough to be scratched with a knife blade. In fact, a scratch test with a knife can determine marble from granite. If the stone can easily be scratched, then it is marble. Marble can also be detected by its various colorful swirls or veins in the pattern of the stone. Granite is an igneous rock, meaning that it is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava. This creates a tough and durable rock, able to withstand climate changes, rain, sleet, snow, and salt. Granite will be difficult to scratch using a knife blade. This makes granite an excellent choice for headstones and monuments since it is heat and water resistant. Color variations usually appear as colorful flecks throughout the stone.”
In addition to this impromptu Geology 101 lesson, I can give you a Geography 101 lesson as well as I found two interestingly named cemeteries in New York City: the New York Marble Cemetery and New York City Marble Cemetery. The New York Marble Cemetery holds the distinction of being New York City's first non-sectarian burial place, established in 1830 in what is now known as the “East Village” neighborhood of Manhattan, on the block bound by 2nd Street, 2nd Avenue, 3rd Street, and the famed Bowery. I learned that It can be entered through an alleyway with an iron gate at each end, located between 41 and 43 Second Avenue. About 2,100 burials are recorded in the cemetery's written registers, most from prominent professional and merchant families in New York City.
To confuse matters, one can find the nearby New York City Marble Cemetery one block east, which is entirely separate, and was established one year later in 1831. Both cemeteries were designated New York City landmarks in 1969, and in 1980 both were added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The former cemetery was fascinating to learn about from information found online. It also answered the question of why the word marble can be found within this burying ground’s unique name.
“The cemetery was founded as a commercial undertaking of Perkins Nichols, who hired two lawyers, Anthony Dey and George W. Strong, to serve as organizing trustees. Recent outbreaks of yellow fever led city residents to fear burying their dead in coffins just a few feet below ground, and public health legislation had outlawed earthen burials. Nichols intended to appeal to this market by providing underground vaults for burial.
Dey and Strong purchased the property on Nichols' behalf, on what was then the northern edge of residential development, on July 13, 1830, and Nichols had the 156 underground family vaults, each the size of a small room, constructed from Tuckahoe marble and laid out in a grid of six columns by 26 rows. He was then reimbursed from the sale of the vaults.
Access to each pair of barrel vaults is by the removal of a stone slab set well below the grade of the lawn, which has no monuments or markers. Marble tablets mounted in the long north and south walls give the names of the original vault owners - though not the names of burials - and indicate the precise location of each corresponding underground vault.
Nichols, Dey & Strong, and the subscribers applied to the New York State Legislature for a special act of incorporation, and this was granted on February 4, 1831. According to a historical plaque on the cemetery's entrance gate "Descendants of the 19th century owners may still be buried here."
Located at 52-74 East 2nd Street (between First and Second avenues) in the East Village, the New York City Marble Cemetery is the city’s second non-sectarian burial ground on record, and has 258 underground burial vaults constructed of Tuckahoe marble. In addition, this cemetery has monuments and markers above ground, many made of, you guessed it, marble.
Outside of this thanatological find, I will guide you through a Cultural Studies or Sociology 101 breadth requirement, in trying to seek another parallel between marble and cemeteries. I fondly reflect upon the small, glass, spherical objects that I collected (and sometimes lost) in my youth. I know this is a true throwback, but I remember the many games that these colorful balls were used to play with my brothers and, more memorably, classmates at school. I distinctly remember days on the Yellow Springs Elementary School playground in which “marble matches” were held atop a circular pitch, and in my case we improvised with the tops of manhole covers boasting a labyrinth of perforated steel on each face.
With that memory in mind, I have heard stories of further-back generations actually placing marbles on childrens’ gravesites as a gesture of letting a child’s spirit play with a popular toy from their youth. I’ve also seen evidence of this here in our cemetery on a few occasions.
Well, now it’s time to get back to Genealogy 101, and my fore-mentioned story trigger for this week’s blog. Jesse Hannibal Marble was born September 11th, 1806 in Jefferson County, New York, located in the north-central part of the state bordering Lake Ontario. His parents were Jonathan Marble, Jr. (1776-1860), a native of Petersham, Worcester County, Massachusetts, and Hannah Marsh (1783-1860) of Elizabeth, NJ. Both parents died in Saint Lawrence County, New York and are buried in Spragueville Cemetery in Antwerp (NY).
Our subject appears to have spent most of his youth and young adult life in St. Lawrence. He married Lancaster, Massachusetts native Dolly Ann Littaye (b. May 16th, 1804) in 1829 in Oneida County, New York. Their first child, Sarah Ann, was born May 16th, 1830 in the town of Utica. Two additional sons, James Warren and John, were born before the family moved to Clinton Township in Knox County, Ohio by the summer of 1834.
Here, eight more Marbles would be born to Jesse and Dolly over the next 12 years. One of these, Caroline Elizabeth, born in April, 1834, would be the impetus for Mr. Marble one day coming to Frederick, and eventually being interred here in Mount Olivet.
Jesse and his family lived about 40 miles northeast of Columbus, Ohio. Clinton is immediately west of Mount Vernon, Ohio. Located a few miles to the north, also within Knox County, Ohio, is the village of Fredericktown, Ohio.
Located at the intersection of Ohio routes 13 and 95, Fredericktown was laid out by Marylander John Kerr around 1806. A year later, Kerr brought in his friend, William Yarnell Farquhar (1777-1854), to survey the village. This latter gentleman also built the first house here and is responsible for naming the place after his former hometown of Frederick, Maryland.
If you are in the mood for another interesting pop culture aside, I learned that former actor Luke Perry (1966-2019), of Beverly Hills, 90210 television fame was raised here and attended Fredericktown High where one of his early acting roles was playing Freddie Bird, the school mascot.
Back to Clinton, Ohio and nearby Mount Vernon, Jesse Marble and his large family operated a farm with all hands on deck. Meanwhile the area was fastly expanding, thanks in part to a growing Cooper Iron Foundry operation located here.
I don’t know what exactly precipitated the move west by Jesse, but I did find a cousin, Jehiel Marble, would live with his family in Mount Vernon and was responsible for stone masonry for a great deal of the town’s buildings in the 1850s. It appears that Jesse and family led a relatively, quiet existence as farmers. Meanwhile, a collision course would soon occur between Frederick, Maryland and the Marbles, already well-traveled in life. Enter Captain Walter Saunders.
Captain Walter Saunders
Walter Saunders was born on May 18th, 1829 in Libertytown, Maryland. His parents are said to have immigrated from England, as Mr. Saunders, Sr. was a schoolteacher. Saunders spent most of his childhood in Woodsboro before coming to Frederick City.
Walter apparently learned the trade of cigar-making in 1850 here locally in Frederick, but traveled west to further his career. After working at a few cigar factories in Ohio and Illinois, Saunders would wind up in Mount Vernon, Ohio in the year 1853, where he took charge as foreman of a cigar shop in town. One way or another, he met, and fell in love with, Jesse’s daughter, the fore-mentioned Caroline Marble. The couple were married on May 31st, 1855 and would return to Saunders’ native home the following year to raise a family of their own.
Dolly Marble would die in 1856 and was buried in Mount Vernon’s Mound Cemetery. She was only 48. Her widower husband, now blind, eventually moved to Galesburg in Knox County, Illinois to live with his oldest daughter Sarah (Marble) Beeny and family. Jesse can be found in the 1860 census here, and had brought his younger children with him.
The American Civil War took hold of the country over the next half decade. Back in Jesse’s former home of Mount Vernon, a massive Unionist meeting was held in May, 1861 with Gen. Columbus Delano presiding over an afternoon crowd of 20,000 who heard from Gov. David Tod and other leaders making the case that Ohio stay loyal to the Union.
Three of Jesse’s sons would enlist in the Union Army, however the war would claim his namesake son, Jesse, Jr. (b. 1844) who fought with Company D of the 102nd Illinois Infantry. (He died at Gallatin, Tennessee in January, 1863.)
Meanwhile, back in Frederick, Maryland, Jesse’s son-in-law, Walter Saunders, had been a leading member of one of our three militia groups that also composed our local fire companies. He was a lieutenant /member of the Independent Rifles, and led men to Harpers Ferry in October 1859 to help quell John Brown’s legendary insurrection. At the beginning of the war, he became a Captain of the First Potomac Home Brigade’s Company I.
Saunders saw heavy action throughout the war and took part in many key engagements. He was captured at the Battle of Harpers Ferry (September 12-15th, 1862, just days before the Battle of Antietam). He would be paroled and eventually returned to military duty, actually fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg in July, 1863. He would be transferred into Maryland’s 13th Infantry Regiment, Company I, and was honorably discharged in December, 1864.
After the war, Captain Saunders returned to the business of cigars, and also began an auction firm that he would continue to oversee until his final years. For one reason or another, Jesse would move to Frederick to live with Caroline and his grandchildren during the war, likely 1863. Since Walter was off at war, perhaps that fact precipitated the move? Whatever the case, Jesse can be found in the 1870 census living on North Market Street.
My research assistant Marilyn Veek found that the property where the Saunders family lived was located at 411 North Market Street, now a vacant lot. Capt. Saunders' mother Elizabeth Kiefer Saunders, had bought the property in 1850 that included both 409 and 411 North Market.
I kind of see the life of Jesse Marble like the personification of a marble within a game of “old-fashioned marbles.” The goal of each shot is to hit one of the marbles in the center and knock it out of the playing circle. If the player knocks a marble out, then they get to keep the marble for the rest of the game, they also get to take another turn. If no marble is knocked out of the circle, the other player then gets a turn. It seems like poor Jesse just continually got “knocked” from place to place throughout his lifetime: Massachusetts to New York, New York to Ohio, Ohio to Illinois, and finally, Illinois to Frederick, Maryland. His final roll, so to speak, was to his eternal home in Mount Olivet’s Area P/Lot 86, where we got to keep him. Captain Saunders bought this lot upon Jesse’s death on April 19th, 1879 at the age of 72.
Saunders was quite a mover and shaker in Frederick as he grew his reputation as one of the top auctioneers in the region, plus dabbled in the political realm as well. He was highly active in local civic and fraternal organizations and remained a guiding force within the Independent Fire Company.
Captain Saunders would die on April 17th, 1912 and his lengthy obituary was a prime source of information for me to piece together how Jesse H. Marble came to be a Fredericktonian, at least one of the Maryland variety. I guess you could credit Walter as a “marble shooter” of sorts, and I was equally glad to learn his unique story as well.
As for Caroline E. (Marble) Saunders, she would pass on April 18th, 1917, one day after the fifth anniversary of her husband’s death.
In 1908, Capt. Saunders had sold his house to his children Laura Saunders Sponseller (1856-1932), Sophie Elizabeth Saunders (1861-1930) and Walter Warren Saunders (1875-1957). Walter, a physician and one of the early directors of the Frederick YMCA, sold it out of the family in 1935. All of these individuals can be found in the Saunders family plot in Mount Olivet.
Jesse Marble, Capt. Saunders and family lived at 411 N. Market St. (2nd house from right in above photograph found in the Library of Congress' Historic America Building (HABS) Survey conducted in 1933). A vacant lot marks the spot of the home today in the photo below taken of the same block. The family also once-owned the bookend house at 409 (3rd from left)
Well, we had an inaugural couple weeks of our own here at Mount Olivet Cemetery with the installation of some pretty awesome monuments. In fact, they represent some of the most impressive in my five year tenure, and surprisingly, one is the largest erected over the 55-year employment of our superintendent, J. Ronald Pearcey.
Our administrative and sales offices are located in the central building of our mausoleum complex in the rear of the cemetery. This is close to the highways (I-70 and I-270) that pass by on the cemetery’s south side. I have an office here, and from my office window, I can see both of these impressive works of rock.
If I look to the east and the FSK Area of the cemetery, I can spy a monument dedicated to the memory of R. Carl Benna, who passed away on March 16th, 2019 at the age of 71. The large headstone utilizes what is called the Apex style (as in apex roof) and features 7 inch raised lettering, also given in this particular case as 13 pennies high, a throwback measurement once common to the industry.
This six-foot tall work was crafted by Star Granite of Elberton, Georgia, and was 3 months in the making utilizing Georgia Blue-Gray Granite with a “steeled,” or unpolished, finish. Mrs. Brenda Benna worked with our Assistant Superintendent/Sales Manager Rick Reeder in designing and executing this granite masterpiece with raised lettering. The gravestone’s placement is on the north driveway that leads visitors back to the mausoleum complex.
As for the decedent, Mr. Benna, I have included his obituary below which documents an impressive business career in home building. This seems quite fitting as the monument atop his final resting place features an apex, a principal element in home architecture of course, not to mention the fact that this lasting memorial required a high degree of coordinated fabrication, transportation of major components, and on-site construction upon a sturdy foundation that required over 53 square feet of cement.
As the Benna stone went up on January 5th, an equally impressive, and considerably taller, monument of the Cooper family was on its way to us from India, by way of Georgia and the forementioned firm of Star Granite. This 20-foot gravestone would be put in place earlier this past week on January 18th.
Both markers required critical assistance from a crane. The Benna stone weighed roughly 21,000 lbs, while the Cooper obelisk, comprised of multiple parts, totaled a sum of 35,000 lbs of finely polished imported gray granite.
This project came in six pieces and involved a great display of teamwork by our seasoned outdoor staff. These guys are certainly pros, and utilized the crane and a collection of trusty industrial-strength straps to get the job done to perfection.
Two black granite benches were added to the base of the Cooper monument, and ornamental urns placed ion the four corners to delineate the boundaries of the lot. It is clearly "one for the ages." The location in Area SS allows for easy viewing by passing motorists, as well as being seen from several differing vantage points throughout the newer part of the cemetery, not to mention from my desk as well.
The Cooper monument is a perfect example of pre-planning by a couple—in this case, Ottoway and Montcella Cooper of Fredericksburg, Virginia. We, here at Mount Olivet, are in no hurry to see either member of this fine couple as full-time resident anytime soon. I understand, that the family has other relatives buried here which prompted their choice for a final resting place. Saying that, it is expected that the couple will always be surrounded by family because they have truly made a familial plot harkening back to the days of old here in Mount Olivet. The Coopers own 24 grave spaces here for themselves and immediate kin, with the ability to provide for future generations for years to come. Talk about having the best centerpiece a family plot could have?
I asked Superintendent Pearcey when he thought the last major monument of this caliber was installed in the cemetery. He told me that the Great Depression and World War II eras put to rest the Victorian era practice of grand monuments—a signature of our historic section. Not only was this based on economics, but perhaps, more so, on the growing popularity and affordability of the automobile and improved transportation through highways. Family members became more transient in nature, and left native hometowns that had hosted founding families for generations. People went west and all directions in search of fortune, work and a myriad of other opportunities.
Some folks would still “come home” at the time of their death, but this is something that would change the dynamic of the stately garden cemeteries like ours (founded in 1852). Much like post-war suburbanization and housing development building on larger scales than ever before, we saw cookie-cutter style memorial cemeteries, boasting standardized size or style grave markers, come about in the 1950s and 1960s. This was also a departure in what could with rural church cemeteries throughout Frederick County, our state, and the nation.
Some may recall a ”Story in Stone” I wrote a few months back in which I called out a large obelisk in Area G belonging to the Noah E. Cramer family (erected around 1930), and another erected recently in Area RR to the memory of Cleopatra Campbell in 2020.
Mr. Pearcey told me he thought the World War II Memorial in Area EE was likely his best guess. This was constructed in 1948, and features two large pilasters bookending an eternal flame centerpiece. Fanned out here, are the gravesites of 30 servicemen who made the greatest sacrifice while in active service during that global conflict.
Otho James Keller(s)
I drove around the cemetery looking for another like-monument to the new Cooper gravestone, and my journey took me to Area P, and a 20-foot monument that faces Harry Grove Stadium, only a few dozen yards from Stadium Drive and our southeastern boundary. This granite masterpiece marks the grave of Otho James Keller and wife Margaret “Maggie” Burnett, formerly of Charles Town, West Virginia. The couple is surrounded by other members of their immediate Keller family, and generations that followed James and Maggie. Here you will find 20 members to date, the most recent being interred in 2020.
So I find this very ironic and fitting—why wouldn’t a family possessing a surname that means cellar desire a tall sky-reaching monument over a lowly ground-level ledger-style marker or common footstone marker. The Kellers here in lots 108 and 109 had a greater impact on the sleepy little village of Buckeystown, south of Frederick.
Otho James Keller was the son of Jonathan Michael Keller (1823-1879) who is buried some 20 yards north of this fine obelisk. Jonathan (1814-1879) had familial roots in farming in his native Middletown, but moved to Buckeystown, and quickly became a well-known citizen here and also justice of the peace. Jonathan, a tailor by trade, married Jane Louisa Springer and the couple raised nine children, eight of whom reached maturity. There were said to have been nine boys and one lone girl.
Mrs. Keller died in 1886 at the age of 67. In conducting research, I was interested to find that the former Miss Springer was a descendant of Swedish immigrant Christopher Springer, one of the original settlers of Wilmington, Delaware, hometown of our new US president, and more importantly for me, my mother, maternal grandparents and a set of great-grandparents.
Our grave monument in question proudly displays the name of Otho James Keller and wife Maggie. T.J.C. Williams’ History of Frederick County, Maryland, Volume II (1910) includes a biography on Otho, and also contains his portrait.
“Otho J. Keller, son of Jonathan and Jane Louisa (Springer) Keller, spent his early days in the neighborhood of Buckeystown, whither his father had removed at an early day, and received his education in the schools of the district. When quite a young man, he embarked in the lime business, in which he was very successful, having a plant at Buckeystown and also at Engles, West Virginia. His brother, C. E. Keller, was his partner in the West Virginia plant. In 1891, Mr. Keller removed to Frederick and became financially interested in a coal and wood business, in partnership with Jacob N. Newman, under the firm name of Keller, Newman & Company.”
“Mr. Keller was one of the foremost business men of Frederick in his day. He was connected with various manufacturing establishments of Frederick and Montgomery Counties, and was a director of the Citizens’ National Bank of Frederick, and president of the Buckeystown Packing Company. Politically, Mr. Keller was a Democrat, and in religion, a Methodist.”
Otho and Maggie were married in 1864, the final year of the American Civil War. The family lived on the noted estate named Rocky Fountain, and here also was the location of the Otho J. Keller Lime Company. Taking its name from the creek that bisects the property and crosses under Buckeystown Pike to the east, the former manor house was built in the mid 1700s by John Darnall, former Frederick County Clerk of the Court, famous in the annals of local history for his Stamp Act Repudiation Day (Nov. 23, 1765) fame. It no longer stands, but in doing my research I saw that an incredible million dollar mansion built in 2008 has taken its place!
Otho and Maggie had ten children, however only six reached adulthood: Lillie M.; Mattie J. B. (Keller) Ford, William O., John F., Bertha L. (Keller) McCleery and Otho James Jr.
In early July, Maggie gave birth to as son, named Thomas Burnett Keller. She would die in childbirth. To add insult to injury, the infant would die 20 days later. Mr. Keller would never remarry.
Otho James Keller, in spite of being a widower, led a busy and successful life according to newspapers. However, it would be a life cut short as he died suddenly on June 3rd, 1899 at the age of 56.
Otho James Keller would be buried in Mount Olivet’s Area P next to Maggie and young Thomas at a funeral that was largely attended on June 6th, 1899. Of particular note, five of his six other children are buried here in the plot. Bertha l. McCleery, the last of the immediate family, passed in 1964 and is buried in Area H.
The O. J. Keller Lime Company continued operation with oldest son William O. Keller taking the helm. He ran the firm successfully until his death in 1920. His name, and that of his wife Grace, can be found carved on the side of the obelisk.
The company sold its Jefferson County, West Virginia company in 1924 to the Potomac Stone & Lime Company. Afterwards the firm would become a casualty of the economic tumble and "Great Crash of 1929." Forty-six years after Otho James Keller had started his humble lime burning business in 1883, the firm's 140-acre Buckeystown property with equipment would be sold at public auction in October, 1929.
Also here in this grave plot, one will find our subject’s other son, Otho James Keller, Jr. (1877-1921), who, like his father, died suddenly and earlier than one would expect. He died of a ruptured blood vessel in the brain. His son, Otho James III (1904-1969), is also buried here along with his son, Otho James Keller IV, whom I knew personally as we both served as board members of the Francis Scott Key Memorial Foundation. This gentleman, whom many called “Ody,” was the great-grandson of our subject, born in 1941 and died in 2017.
I would remiss if I didn’t mention that there was a second grandson who held the name of Otho James Keller (1903-1941). This was the son of John Fletcher Keller, son of our main subject. This particular grandson had only been living in Baltimore for six months after taking a position as a clerk with a radio company. Apparently two weeks before his death, he suffered an accidental fall within a restaurant which contributed to his hospitalization and subsequent death at age 37.
Let's get back to our talk of "heavy lifting" and monuments. Unfortunately, I was unable to find anything further on the actual installation date of the Keller obelisk. I’m assuming it occurred around the year 1900, but it could be anywhere from that year up through 1929 and the infamous Stock Market Crash. I can just imagine the scene, watching the Mount Olivet staff of the time erecting this monument. I saw the skill and expertise on display these past few weeks with the Benna and Cooper stones but with the advantage of today's equipment. I envision ropes, block & tackle and real horse-power with horses and men hoisting the base stone and obelisk needle into place—it must have been quite a sight.
Oh the term, and name, “Patriot,” is being thrown around with reckless abandon this January, but not “thrown around” for the perennial reason with the New England Patriots making the NFL playoffs again—as they failed this year, after 17 appearances and five Super Bowls since 2000. I’m no fan of those Patriots, but I love the Boston-area patriots of 1775-1776 and forever beholden to my alma mater, the Gov. Thomas Johnson High School Patriots, a school that my wife and oldest son attended, while three more boys attend currently.
Dictionaries offer the definition of the word patriot, as “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.”
Now, I know the media, politicians and some citizens (to themselves) are applying this term in respect to supposed “freedom fighters” involved in current (and past year) domestic events. I get the analogy, but I prefer seeing the lost fashion fad of tri-cornered hats at SAR functions and in Colonial Williamsburg.
Call me old-school, but I prefer the age-old use learned in childhood that associates the term strictly with soldiers, militiamen and others who donated money, food, supplies and expertise to the Continental Army of the 13 Colonies in the War of Independence against Great Britain and King George III. An interesting side note, mentioned before in this blog series, is that the king’s father was the namesake of our fair town and county—Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales.
As a matter of fact, my parents gave me a bedroom with a patriot/American Revolution theme—no lie. My younger brothers had nautical and zoo themes respectively upon our move here to Frederick in 1974. I remember the Bicentennial year all too well, and my youngest brother and I even went as patriots for Halloween.
I have to say, although some may think this was potential child abuse, (ie: a bedroom complete with Rev War-themed curtains, decoupage wall plaques of colonial soldiers, a Betsy Ross 13-star flag pinned on the wall, colonial drum bookends and piggy-bank and a 1776 bed comforter), it was definitely a factor playing a role in my career direction. I’ve said this before, TJ High School, and my time as a Patriot, was a prime influence on me as I had incredible teachers and the type of high school experience that you remember fondly for your lifetime.
In 2019, we had a nice little commemoration marking the 200th death of the fore-mentioned Thomas Johnson, a true patriot in the sense of the word who was a member of the Continental Congress, led Maryland troops in the American Revolution, helped draft Maryland’s state constitution and became it’s first elected governor. TJ served as one of the first Supreme Court justices and helped survey Washington DC as the new nation’s capital.
Johnson was originally buried in the old All Saints’ Cemetery bordered by Carroll Creek and E. All Saints’ Street. He was re-interred in 1913, just one of many other patriots that were moved here from now gone downtown burying grounds. We have 40 confirmed patriots here in Mount Olivet today. Johnson’s brothers, James and Baker, are among these. Another well-represented, patriotic family went by the name of Mantz, and one of these actual patriots of ’76 has a birthday coming up at week’s end.
January 16th, 2021 marks the 188th anniversary of the passing of former Frederick resident Peter Mantz. Now I know this is not a traditional anniversary year to commemorate one’s death date, but I didn’t want to wait until 2033, based on 2020, and the rate we are going in 2021 thus far.
Peter Mantz is best known as one of Frederick County’s foremost soldiers in the Revolutionary War. A fitting celebration of this gentleman took place here at Mount Olivet back on June 28th, 2009. It was sponsored by The Sergeant Lawrence Everhart Chapter, Maryland Sons of the American Revolution, and featured an official dedication of Mantz’s gravesite by members of the MDSSAR Continental Color Guard and Rev. Frederick Pyne. The event was emceed by Chapter President Douglas and more than thirty folks were in attendance.
Captain Peter Mantz was born in Chester, Pennsylvania on November 18th, 1752 and moved early in his youth to Frederick County, Maryland. He was the son of German immigrants Johann Casper Mantz (1718-1791) and Anna Christina Heim (1728-1804), both hailing from Baden-Wurttemberg.
Peter Mantz was among nine children belonging to an affluent family as the name of his father is readily found in the annals of our local history as a colonial-era “mover and shaker.” Our subject apparently received some form of organized education in the early days of Frederick, likely provided by the Evangelical Reformed Church of Frederick. He is said to have worked as a land surveyor and speculator. At the time of his death, he is reported to have owned 1,110 acres in Frederick and Allegany counties, plus five lots and ground rents on five more lots in Frederick Town by 1798.
The winds of war blew strong in the mid-1770s and Peter and a few brothers answered the call to take up arms. Peter was part of the Toms Creek Gamecock Brigade. His father (Casper Mantz) also contributed money, food and supplies to the war effort.
“Captain Peter Mantz’ Company, Maryland Flying Camp, 1776”. On 3 June 1776, the Continental Congress resolved a ten-thousand-man flying camp be created to augment the Continental Army. This company was raised in Frederick County, Maryland. Company members are shown in their well-worn uniforms the morning of 16 September 1776 before fighting at Harlem Heights. Illustration by Don Long. Illustration from page 168 of Military Collector and Historian, Journal of the Company of Military Historians, Vol. 66, No. 2, Summer 2014.
Peter eventually raised his own unit of soldiers from Frederick. He would serve with the 33rd Battalion of the Continental forces and was captain of the 1st Maryland Battalion of “the Flying Camp” during the Revolutionary War. What’s a “Flying Camp” you may ask? Well after the British evacuation of Boston in March 1776, Gen. George Washington met with members of the Continental Congress to determine future military strategy. Faced with defending a huge amount of territory from potential British operations, Washington recommended forming a "flying camp,” which in the military terminology of the day referred to a mobile, strategic reserve of troops. Congress agreed, and on June 3rd, 1776, passed a resolution "that a flying camp be immediately established in the middle colonies and that it consist of 10,000 men ...."
The men recruited for the Flying Camp were to be militiamen from three colonies: 6000 from Pennsylvania, 3400 from Maryland, and 600 from Delaware. They were to serve until December 1st, 1776, unless discharged sooner by Congress, and to be paid and fed in the same manner as regular soldiers of the Continental Army.
In July, 1776, Captain Mantz led his fellow Marylanders to the area of New Jersey to support Gen. George Washington's defense of New York City and the island of Manhattan in July. He and his part of the Flying Camp saw combat at the Battle of Harlem Heights, and nearby Fort Washington, where they took heavy losses.
Afterwards, Mantz became a temporary major from September to December 2nd (1776) as the British overwhelmed the American forces in and around New York. His unit helped to cover the retreat of Washington's Army as it raced across New Jersey to the Delaware River.
One of the officers in a different company in Mantz’s regiment, William Beatty, kept a diary of his time in the army. Their experiences would have been similar. You can read it online here within a 1906 edition of Maryland Historical Magazine:
Peter Mantz returned to Frederick in 1777 as he was appointed militia recruiting officer for Frederick County. After the war, Mantz served as tax commissioner in 1783, 1785, 1786 and a decade later in 1797. He served in legislative office by winning election for Maryland’s Lower House representing Frederick County in the 1782-83 General Assembly, however he did not attend and resigned in November, 1782. He would serve in this role, however, from 1786-1787. In that same year of 1787, he was made surveyor of Frederick County, and switched over to county sheriff from 1788-1791.
Engelbrecht’s diary entry makes mention that our "patriot of interest" was originally placed in a burying ground that no longer exists in downtown Frederick, known as the Mantz Graveyard. This property appears on old tax property maps on the north side of West Fourth Street and was more square than long and narrow like most city lots, so I researched it further. The Mantz burying ground was on the northeast corner of West Fourth and Klineharts Alley, running 110 feet along Fourth and 80 feet along the Alley. Today, the addresses are 21, 23 and 25 West Fourth.
After an equity case in 1885 (William Mantz et al vs Charles Trail et al), the property was sold to the German Baptist Brethren to build a house of worship. The deed also specified that they were to "take proper care of the human remains buried in said lot of ground." The Brethren sold the property in 1955, and in 1962, it was sold to the Peoples Baptist Church. The property was sold by that church in 1973 to a private party, but the property was still "commonly known as Mantz Burying Ground" as late as a 1978 deed.
From our records, Peter appears to have been re-interred here in Mount Olivet on October 5th, 1855. This was roughly a year-and-a half after our garden cemetery opened.
Other family members are buried here too including his wife, parents, siblings, and multiple children. In his funeral plot located in Area E/Lot 138, one can find:
A few lots away in Area E/Lot 147, rest three of Patriot Peter's sons who fought in the War of 1812: Peter Mantz, Jr. (1794-1872), Ezra Mantz (1779-1828), and David Mantz (1785-1826).
In recent times, visitors and genealogists found the tombstone of Major Peter Mantz was eroded to the point that it was illegible. The Everhart SAR Chapter took the initiative to order a new military tombstone from the Veterans’ Administration. This would be unveiled at that commemorative event back in 2009.
To learn more about Mount Olivet’s other patriots from the American Revolution, I invite you to visit our companion website, www.MountOlivetVets.com. Here, we are building memorial pages for over 4,000 veterans in Mount Olivet. The website, published in fall, 2017, can best be described as "a work in progress," and is being continually added to. We humbly ask for the assistance of descendants, historians and friends to provide us with photographs. portraits, documents and/or additional information of note to add. We also want to link to other sources of information regarding our vets, and the training and battles they participated in.
As opposed to a finished publication like a book, we have the opportunity to add supplemental images and information at will, while also having the ability to correct errors and misnomers. We hope this site provides an educational and informational portal, one that sheds light on why Frederick, Maryland has always been linked to patriotism and the American flag.
"Little Christmas," also known as "Old Christmas," is one of the traditional names among Irish Christians and Amish Christians for January 6th, which is also known more widely as the Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated after the conclusion of the twelve days of “Christmastide.” It is the traditional end of the Christmas season and until 2013 was the last day of the Christmas holidays for both primary and secondary schools in Ireland.
Christmastide (also known as Christmastime or the Christmas season) follows the better-known Advent and is a season of the liturgical year in most Christian church which begins on December 24th at sunset or Vespers, which is liturgically the beginning of Christmas Eve.
Customs of the Christmas season include gift giving, attending Nativity plays, and church services, eating special food, such as Christmas cake, and singing Christmas carols. Today, it seems that Christmas music is shut down on December 26th, but this wasn’t the case when Little Christmas was more in vogue. Of course, one of the most fitting and familiar songs heard during this period in days of old was "The Twelve Days of Christmas."
Outside of “drummers drumming,” “maids a-milking” and “lords a-leaping,” the song is half-comprised of aviary gift offerings ranging from partridges to turtle doves to French hens. Not in the market for “calling birds,” “swans a-swimming” or “geese a-laying,” especially this time of year, I can also confess that my “Christmas List” also doesn’t include the fore-mentioned “golden rings,” “dancing ladies” or “piping pipers.” But, hey, no complaints from me, as it’s been a nice twelve days regardless.
In researching this piece, I learned that there are several celebrations comprising Christmastide, including Christmas Day, St. Stephen's Day (December 26th), Childermas (December28th), New Year's Eve, the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ or the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (January 1st), and the Feast of the Holy Family (date varies), and Epiphany Eve or Twelfth Night (the evening of January 5th). However, to my surprise, I found a brand-new celebration compartmentalized within the joyous “Twelve Days,” truly making it a Baker’s Dozen, both literally and figuratively.
That’s right, “Four Days of Glaze!” from December 31st-January 3rd. Two dozen Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts for $12! What a Christmastide delight for young and old, while crushing thousands of proposed weight loss New Year’s resolutions on a national scale. Only a temporary setback for the determined however, but made me think of a great lyric object if only the Twelve Days of Christmas Song was actually “Twenty-four Days of Christmas”--24 donuts a-glazin’.
Yours truly certainly took advantage of this sugary celebration, but I admit that it was solely due to the arduous research work I was conducting on this week’s subject, a lady by the name of Sarah Glaze. In my introductory internet searches for “Glaze,” I was inundated by Krispy Kreme advertisements as you can imagine. Weeks ago, I was truly thinking that my lead-in segue for this blog would have been tied to a bout with freezing rain over donuts, but warmer temperatures simply delivered rain without a chance for “precipatory glaze.”
Sarah A. Glaze.
The possessor of one of the more magnificent monuments in the cemetery, I have marveled at the large monument dedicated to the memory of Sarah A. Glaze for the last few years. I wondered who this woman was, especially one who deserved such an amazing memorial?
The name isn’t a Frederick moniker of local nobility. The woman never married and had no children. However, I have always been struck by the sleek, polished look of her massive grave in Area H, which must have been very expensive. It almost gives off the look of glaze, which is defined as a vitreous substance fused on to the surface of pottery to form an impervious decorative coating or, in the case with doughnuts and cake, a liquid such as milk or beaten egg which is used to form a smooth, shiny coating on food. After hours of study, I can’t say that Miss Glaze led a life becoming of such a name or grandiose monument. Instead, she seems more of the plain doughnut variety, perhaps a powdered doughnut, but that may be a reach.
Sarah Ann Glaze was born on September 26th, 1841 in the Pleasant Valley district outside Keedysville in neighboring Washington County. She was one of eleven children born to David Glaze (1795-1873) and wife Elizabeth Furry (1799-1884).
Previously, David Glaze had bought his Washington County farm in 1832 from his father Wendel Glaze (of whom a familysearch.org family tree gives the name as Johannes Wendel Glaze, born in Lancaster county, PA). Wendel came to America with his family as a young boy and his surname became Anglicized from the original “Kless.” The German word for “glaze” is “Die Glasur” in case you were curious. I learned that Kless translates to “the conquering people,” not quite glaze.
Wendel, our subject Sarah’s grandfather, bought the Pleasant Valley property from one, Jacob Snyder Jr. It was located on the west side of the Rohrerstown Pike, MD67, and on the south side of what is now called Dogstreet Road, west of Mt. Carmel Road. On the 1877 Washington County Atlas (Lake, Griffing & Stevenson), the former Glaze property is owned by a J. S. Miller whose father had married into the Glaze family. Attached is a Google map - the property that shows as brown dirt with buildings in the middle is essentially the same property that Glaze owned. Across the street, to the east, sits a popular wedding venue by the name of "Whistling Wren Farm.”
Three of Sarah’s siblings died on this farm and are buried in the small Snyder Farm Cemetery located about a half-mile south of their original home. (Note: the Snyder burying ground is located at 5513 Mt. Carmel Road).
David Glaze sold his homeplace in 1850, when Sarah was nine years-old. She and her siblings (three brothers and three sisters) moved east to Frederick County. The former Glaze farm was certainly affected twelve years later as the Battle of South Mountain raged at nearby Fox’s Gap, a mile and a half to the east, on September 14th, 1862. The nearby Battle of Antietam raged a few days later to the west, but luckily about four miles distant. Most certainly soldiers of either, or both, armies trod the one-time Glaze Farm and at the very least, the surrounding roads.
The Frederick-area farm that David Glaze moved his family was located a few miles north of Frederick City. There’s a possibility that Civil War soldiers could have walked this farmland as well, but luckily it was relatively far from the scene of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 and the Battle of Monocacy in 1864. The 237 acre parcel was located where the Willowbrook housing development stands now (roughly between US15 and Opossumtown Pike, south of Tuscarora Creek). “D. Glaze” is shown on the 1858 Bond map and again in the 1873 Titus map at this location.
We have also talked about the colorful Captain Ezra Doub in a few past “Stories in Stone,” as his final resting place is here in Mount Olivet’s Area C/Lot 127. The Doub and Glaze Foundry and machine shop was listed in the 1860 census of manufactures in Frederick with $19,000 capital investment, 20 employees, and a 15hp steam engine. A great addition to this firm came with inventor extraordinaire McClintock Young. Annual output was 15 wheat drills and 200 plows ($8950). Look around Frederick, and you will still see cast iron grates and doors in sidewalks, along with coal chute covers on sides of dwellings that were produced by this firm.
Now, I went into detail with this because Sarah, later in life, would live with her sister Maria in a house at 110 and 110A West Third Street purchased from Christian Bushey in 1884. The Glaze family may have been renting this house at least since 1870 based on the census record showing them on West Third Street.
There is a link between this house and the Glaze’s Willowbrook farmstead as both had been owned by Benjamin Fitzhugh. The West Third Street house was owned previously by Christian Bushey's father, Jacob, bought by Fitzhugh in 1864, but reverted back to Christian as trustee. The farm, of course, conveyed to Sophia Fitzhugh in 1849. In addition, Jacob Bushey owned an early mill at the foundry site, and after a few owners (or leases) went to Fitzhugh. It’s my opinion here that it appears that everyone here may have had mortgage management and money issues. My research assistant Marilyn Veek conjectures that perhaps David Glaze couldn't afford to buy a town house, because he had a mortgage on the farm until 1864. Marilyn couldn’t find any deeds for David Glaze buying property on West Third.
David Glaze died on January 21st, 1873 and was buried in Mount Olivet on Area H/Lot 305.
David Glaze’s heirs, including Sarah, sold the family farm shortly thereafter. Mrs. Elizabeth Glaze headed the townhouse residence in the 1880 census at the Third Street property. She would pass just over 11 years after her husband and is buried at his side in Area H.
Maria and Sarah took over the property at this point and I found that Maria died four years later in January, 1888. Sarah appears to have either rented or shared the home with other ladies over the next two decades. I was puzzled to not find any mentions of her in the local newspapers until her death on January 3rd, 1910 at the age of 68 years, 3 months and 8 days—a fact stated on her monument.
Was she just a good, ole-fashioned miser? I don’t know if Sarah A. Glaze belonged to clubs, attended church, traveled or celebrated holidays such as Christmastide. And if she did, she only made it through ten days of Christmas. All I know is that the month of January was not kind to the Glaze family, as it claimed Sarah, her live-in companion/sister and parents. You could say the month gave Mount Olivet “Four Graves of Glaze.”
Our friend, cemetery restoration expert Jonathan Appell of Southington, Connecticut, pointed out to me how impressive this monument really is as it is crafted from Barre granite, a material much preferred for building projects and by sculpture artists for use in outdoor works. For tombstone and geology fans, Barre granite is a Devonian granite pluton found near the town of Barre in Washington County, Vermont. It is best described as “a fine granite, composed of quartz, feldspar, and mica. The mica is both muscovite and biotite.”
The granite is mined at the E. L. Smith Quarry, the world's largest "deep hole" granite quarry, owned by the Rock of Ages Corporation. "Barre Gray" granite is sought after worldwide for its fine grain, even texture, and superior weather resistance. Jonathan also said it is quite expensive as well!
They say you can’t take it with you, but it appears that a good chunk of Sarah’s money is close at hand. The monument is topped with arguably the most popular funerary symbol of the nineteenth century, a draped cinerary urn. The drape can be seen as either a reverential accessory or as a symbol of the veil between earth and the heavens. The urn was an ancient vessel used to hold human ashes and prevalent as an iconic symbol of the Victorian Age. An inscription carved on the monument's face is taken from the Bible’s Book of Timothy (The First Epistle of Paul to Timothy): “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.”
In addition to Maria, six more of Sarah's siblings are also buried within Mount Olivet: John H. Glaze (1822-1862), Joseph Glaze (1823-1906), Samuel F. Glaze (1825-1895), Mary A. (Glaze) Fleming (1829-1891), Elizabeth (Glaze) Storr (1837-1917), Margaret Ann (Glaze) Huffer (1846-1923).
Fittingly, the Krispy Kreme promotion ended on the 110th anniversary of this lady’s death. I truly honored her by enjoying a glazed doughnut in her memory on January 3rd, 2021. I truly apologize if I offend, but the purpose of cemeteries is to bury the dead first, but more so, to remember them and their deeds (great, small or possibly non-existent to future researchers eyes) as fellow, and equal human brethren.
Well, I can’t recall a year in my lifetime, thus far, when 12 midnight on New Year’s Eve couldn’t come fast enough. This year is it, and it’s a real shame that the legendary Dick Clark isn’t still here to help usher in 2021 in “Rockin’ style.”
The past 12 months of 2020 will go down in history as the year the world saw a pandemic like no other, ruining just about everything except the always precious gift of new babies born within its 365 day-span. I don’t need to go into all the negative things that went on display this past year, but it has been a period most all of us are eager to put in the rear-view mirror. Let’s just push the reset button in hopes for a kinder, gentler and brighter 2021.
Of course, some folks have capitalized on this miserable time period including toilet paper, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipe manufacturers. Amazon, Netflix and grocery stores made out pretty well, as did Covid face-mask manufacturers and vandalism supply outlets. Even on the back end of the year, makers of novelty t-shirts, mugs and bumper stickers calling out 2020 are getting the last laugh. Although in all seriousness, it really hasn’t been a laughing matter. And that’s a perfect segue as difference of opinion, ideology and thought ran rampant this past year, and divided friends and family in many cases. That said, perhaps there is only one thing that we can all agree on and come to the consensus that, plain and simply, 2020 sucks.
Now, the verb “sucks,” or its other tense “suck” (when used with a pluralized noun) has a colorful slang meaning (and an even more colorful origin which you can research on your own time). The Merriam-Webster Dictionary includes the definition of the slang use of this word, which in some circles is seen to have a somewhat vulgar connotation. Here goes: Suck -- to be objectionable or inadequate. Of course, the irony with our English language is that the best remedy and advice given to people for properly surviving and overcoming the challenges associated with this past year is the phrase: “You just have to suck it up.” This is conveniently defined by Merriam-Webster as “making the effort required to do or deal with something difficult or unpleasant.”
So why have I gone off on this strange rant in the first place, when our weekly “Stories in Stone” features are supposed to be interesting, informative, and sometimes entertaining as we are recounting the lives of former Frederick residents laid to rest in Mount Olivet Cemetery? Well, I must warn you that like 2020, this week’s blog will “suck.” You may not want to read any further (but I sure hope you do).
A couple of years back, I stumbled upon a rare surname among the 40,000 inhabitants interred in our fair burying ground. Frankly, I found myself doing a doubletake.
Well, there’s a name you don’t see everyday, if ever at all. I think that it would actually suck to have such a last name today, and possibly even worse to take as a married name? Could you imagine going to the DMV to have your maiden name changed to Suck? Anyway, perhaps I’m overexaggerating a bit, but if anything else, the surname is quite a conversation starter, as well as a story starter. This gravestone is in Area OO/Lot 136. I first took notice of it when I wrote a story about a gentleman named Charles Edwin “Casey” Jones who is buried in an adjacent lot. I knew I’d get back to William Suck, and wife Altie, in the future when the time was right, or should I say, when the time was wrong?
William Suck was born in eastern Ohio (near the West Virginia border) on February 8th, 1869, the son of Augustus Fellers Suck (1846-1919) and Catherine Reece (1850-1917). William’s grandfather, Justus Frederick Suck, pronounced “sook” which rhymes with book. He was a German immigrant from Hesse who came to Pennsylvania in the 1840s and later migrated further west to the Ohio River Valley and Independence Township in Washington County, Ohio, located northeast of present-day Parkersburg, West Virginia. The Sucks were farmers.
William was the oldest of six children. The 1880 census shows that William’s father (Augustus Suck) was a miller and farmer. When writing the name Augustus Suck (pronounced Sook of course) I am immediately reminded of Augustus Gloop, a character from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the weight-challenged, German boy who also found a magical, Golden Ticket courtesy of Willie Wonka. You may recall that Augustus couldn’t help himself from overindulging from the Wonka factory’s chocolate river. His demise came after he lost his balance and fell into said tributary, and was “sucked” out by the extraction pipe and whizzed off to the boiler room.
Now, back to our “non-sweet” story at hand, sorry about that. It appears that William Suck’s family eventually moved across the Ohio River to Ravenswood in Jackson County, West Virginia, where our subject continued performing farm-work. On January 1st, 1893, he married Altie Elizabeth West of Silverton, also in Jackson County. The couple can be found in Ravenswood in the 1900 US Census with their first-born son George Earnest Suck (b. 1897).
A second son, John George was born in June, 1901 and a third son, Charles K., would be born in 1903.
In 1910, the Suck family could be found living in Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, at which place William was working as a foreman at a quarry and the census states that he was a steam shovel operator. His employer was likely the Fort Smith Marble Company.
Five years later, the family moved to Frederick County, Maryland and settled in Ijamsville in the eastern part of the county. I assume the move was made for employment purposes as William continued his work as a foreman and steam-shovel operator. He labored at the Westport Paving and Brick Quarries here. I was curious to learn about the industrial history of this interestingly named hamlet that grew up around an old mill on both sides of Mussetter Road. I found the following passage about the Ijamsville quarry which specialized in the extraction of slate stone. This appeared as part of a website featuring paranormal activity at the old Gabriel’s Inn in Ijamsville:
Ijamsville's slate quarry opened in the 1700s by the Duvall brothers. Veins of slate run through Westminster towards Frederick, but the best examples of the volcanic-derived rock were to be found in Ijamsville. In time, two thriving quarries were established, in which men worked to provide slate material that was used for roofs all around Frederick and even in Washington, D.C. One was situated just west of the railroad station, beside the tracks, and the other was about a half mile south of the town. The village of Ijamsville, relying more on mining than quarrying, was settled in 1831 spurred by the construction of both the Ijams Mill and the B&O Railroad. "All day long, loud blasts of rock powder...could be heard above the rumble of passing freight trains, and children scurried to cover to escape the showers of falling slate." At night people congregated at the village store where, lit by whale oil lanterns, farmers and the primarily-Welsh miners would have lively arguments, sometimes leading to fist fights. "Asked by a traveling drummer (of the Union Army during the Civil War) about local crops one farmer replied: 'We raise wheat, tobacco, and corn, and on Saturday nights we raise a little hell.'"
The Suck home property was at what is now 4703 and 4705 Mussetter Road, just north of the railroad tracks in Ijamsville. The house, formerly home of Ijamsville’s former general store operator at 4703 Mussetter, is described in a Maryland Historical Trust survey for the Ijamsville District as follows:
The two-story frame building has been considerably altered, but the massing of the house reveals its 19th century origin. The exterior is covered with vinyl siding and a one-story porch is on the south elevation. The bay arrangement is irregular, reflecting the present use of the building as an apartment house. On the 1873 town plan, the building is identified as owned by J.T. Williams, one of the partners in the Sellman and Williams store (demolished) which stood to the west of the house near the road. The building's date is unclear because of its alterations, but at least part of the structure may date from about 1850-1860.
J.T. William’s son, Anthony Williams, is on record having sold the property to Altie Suck in October, 1915. In case you were interested, J. T. Williams and wife Jane are also buried in Mount Olivet. My assistant Marilyn Veek shared that interment tidbit with me as she researched, and found, that the Westport Paving Brick Company owned property that was located directly east of the Suck's property along the railroad tracks. This was not part of the earlier mentioned quarry operation which seemed to have enjoyed its heyday before the Civil War.
The Williams family also originally owned this property - Anthony Williams sold 5 acres to the Baltimore Vitrified Clay Company in 1903; that company went bankrupt in 1909 and the property was sold to the Westport Paving Brick Company. Westport owned it until 1946. 1913 ads in the News mention the Westport Paving Brick Company's quarry in Ijamsville. Shale from the quarry was used to make paving bricks according to a 1922 Frederick News article about the company.
The photo above appears in an 1898 publication entitled Maryland Geological Survey (Volume Two). The caption reads as follows: Slate Quarry, Ijamsville, Frederick County. William Bullock Clark (MD State Geologist at the time) wrote the following passage that accompanied this photograph:
At the present time no slate is quarried at Ijamsville although this locality has been known as a source of slate for nearly if not quite a hundred years. Parrish, in his brief history of the slate trade in America, states that quarries near Frederick were opened about 1812. This may be a reference to the small openings at Linganore but it seems more in harmony with local traditions to infer that the quarries about Ijamsville were in mind.
When Isaac Tyson, Jr. (State Agricultural Chemist from 1858-1862) prepared his report, there were two slate quarries in operation. One was situated just west of the railroad station beside the tracks and the other was about a half mile south of the town. They were evidently quite small for they had not reached the best material. Little work was done during the time of the Civil War and the more prominent quarry shown in Plate XXIV Fig 2 (above photo) was permanently abandoned about 1870 when the pit commenced to undermine the roadbed of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The smaller opening lying south of the town never attained any considerable importance although efforts were made as late as 1892 to bring the product of this quarry into the market. The method of working followed was that of the Germans who mine rather than quarry their slate. A shaft was sunk to a depth of about sixty feet but the enterprise was not successful.
The slates from Ijamsville formerly brought nearly as good prices as those from Harford county but at the present time they are almost unsaleable. This is not due to the poor or unstable character of the stone so much as it is to the relatively poor workmanship displayed in recent years and the popular demand for a slate which will ring when tapped with a finger or pencil. Because of the hard and compact character of the better siliceous slates from Pennsylvania and the northern states it has become customary to regard all dull or soft slates as untrustworthy. In many instances this view is correct but in the case of the Ijamsville slates it is not warranted by the facts. The slates from this locality show microscopically that they are well crystallized and that they do not owe their softness to a partial change from a shale to a slate but to an admixture of the relatively stable and soft mineral talc, which is usually wanting in the better-known slates. If the stone were unstable the blue-black color would change upon exposure. This it does not do since roofs on which the slates have been exposed to the atmosphere for fully fifty years do not indicate any change in color as a result of this exposure. In spite of their permanency in color and their strength the slates have yet to prove themselves a basis for a profitable industry.
I read in the Maryland Heritage Trust survey that a number of early Ijamsville homes boasted slate roofs. Regardless, I found it interesting that the article mentioned the German style of “mining” slate. Was this a contributing factor for bringing the German Suck family to our area?
Our friend, William Suck of Bohemian heritage, didn’t get to enjoy many years of life in Maryland, “the Land of Pleasant Living.” There is also a specific reason why I have given an intricate geology lesson as it pertains to Ijamsville. Our final plot twist involves a cause and effect relationship between both statements above. For many people living in this time period, 1918 was understandably a terrible year with the height of American involvement, and casualties related to World War I. This year also saw the Spanish Influenza pandemic which is said to have infected one-third of the world's population with an estimated number of deaths at 50 million worldwide and 675,000 here in the United States.
Our subject and his family made it through unscathed, George participated in World War I and no one got the flu from what I have been able to glean. However, one can definitively say that the year 1919 really “sucked” for our subject. To be exact, the day of June 16th would be more than “rocky” for the entire Suck family, leaving them with a crushing blow, both literally, and figuratively.
William Suck languished for a few days but succumbed to his injuries four days later on June 20th, 1919.
Following William’s tragic death, Altie Suck began spending her winters in Melbourne, Florida with son John. The family continued residing in Ijamsville. George would move to Wolfsville in northern Frederick County and Charles would relocate to Tulsa, Oklahoma by 1930 and at the time of his mother’s death could be found in Burbank, California, residing with his wife’s grandfather, working as a welder and having changed the spelling of his last name to Sook. Another son, Harry R. Suck (b. 1911), appears in the 1920 census, but nowhere else. He is thought to have predeceased his mother because he is not mentioned in her obit.
Altie would survive her husband by nearly twenty years. She died while visiting son George in winter of 1938. She would be laid to rest next to William in Area OO/Lot 136..
The family property was advertised for sale in October 1938, but learned that this would convey to brother John. He lived in Ijamsville until his death on December 7th, 1960. Although there is no stone, our records show that John is buried next to his parents in the Suck lot within Area OO. I found that George died in 1956 and is buried in Baltimore National Cemetery. His widow, Caroline Kolb Suck, is buried in Mount Olivet, just a few yards away from her former in-laws in Area OO/Lot 128.
Interestingly, George's son, George Earnest (1939-2012), actually changed his name to George Earnest West, taking the maiden name of his patenal grandmother, Altie (West) Suck. He is buried to the immediate left of his grandparents (William and Altie) in Area OO's Lot 136.
Well, after that tale, maybe your assessment of this past year of 2020 may not be all that bad, after all, getting crushed by a huge boulder, now that would really suck! However, on a strictly serious note, Covid-19 and the loss, pain, suffering and stress it has brought over the past year has been no laughing matter.
I will share that from our cemetery perspective, we expected a much worse result than what we experienced in number of related deaths. Back in March, with the onset, we had staff meetings in which we planned for mass burials, or at least what had occurred back in fall/winter of 1918 with the Spanish Influenza pandemic. At that time, Frederick County experienced roughly 250 deaths between September, 1918-January, 1919. One-hundred of those victims are buried here in Mount Olivet. Yes, it was a less populated world back then, but medicine, technology and communication are nothing like we have today, a century later.
Since the beginning of 2020, even considering the first Coronavirus positive cases did not start appearing until mid-March, we have had 275 total interments in Mount Olivet, which mirrors our annual total over the last several years. From the information made aware to us by our partnering funeral homes, only seven of these 275 deaths in 2020 were the direct result of Covid-19.
We have seven victims of the Coronavirus:
* four victims were residents of Montgomery County with three over the age of 75 and one under 50.
*one victim was from Washington County and 70 years old
*two victims were Frederick County residents, a man in his 70s and a woman in her 90s
Yes, one death from Covid-19 is too many, but when you really think about how bad things could have been in terms of fatalities, we were very fortunate. Happy New Year to all of our readers, families and friends, and thanks for your continued support of these stories and Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Christmas cards seem like they are slowly becoming a thing of the past. With electronic means to send picture messages via social media, it seems like a more economical, and faster, way to get personal wishes of “Seasons Greetings” to friends and loved ones. This is especially true for those procrastinators among us.
However, there is something pure and special about the Christmas card, or should I say Christmas/holiday image, regardless of time period. It preserves us in time, an image of a person or family from a specific year of our existence. It’s the measuring stick of our life as it is an annual occurrence. Regardless, this is what we have come to expect of cards of the last few decades as digital cameras have given so many more options for us to design our own cards from the comfort of our own computers. One can employ online templates and websites to get the job done. Before this, it was only an added bonus to find Christmas photos, and sometimes that coveted family group shot, stuffed within a traditional fold-out Christmas card.
Four years back I wrote on the origins of this tradition, and some of the local progenitors here in Frederick such as David H. Smith and H. F. Shipley.( http://www.mountolivethistory.com/stories-in-stone-blog/hf-shipley-and-other-spirits-of-christmas-past.) In this Christmas edition of “Stories in Stone,” I simply want to share three photographs that are among those featured in in a 2008 picture collection publication by the Frederick News-Post, of whom I wrote about just a few weeks back in chronicling the papers’ founder William T. Delaplaine. The individual work I’m referencing is entitled Frederick County, Maryland: Your Life. Your Community. Presented by Your Paper (Volume III).
On page 18 of the above-mentioned book, one can find five photographs exhibiting magical Christmas morning scenes, all with adorned Christmas trees as backdrops. The oldest of these is the image above with a caption that reads: Emory Gomber Nusz-Maternal grandfather of Virginia Lee Best Rinehart.” The photo was taken in 1898 and is featured in the book courtesy of Virginia L. Rinehart.
Emory Gomber Nusz was born April 19th, 1894, the son of Emory Mobley Nusz and Mary “Mamie” Virginia Gomber. Sadly, young Emory never met his father as this gentleman died in August, 1893. Now, I’m no mathematician, but I’m guessing this was shortly after learning that Mary was pregnant, if he knew at all. I found the following obituary summary on Findagrave.com for the elder Emory Nusz:
Emory Nusz was a well-known minor leaguer and semipro player in Maryland who appeared in 1 game for the 1884 Washington Nationals of the Union Association. He was later employed at Isaac's Cigar Factory in Baltimore until he founded his own establishment in his hometown of Frederick, MD. He continued to play semipro ball in his spare time, even as he was employed as a traveling salesman for a York, PA tobacco firm. He was prominent in base-ball circles, and was considered to have a fine knowledge of the National Game. He last season as a player was spent at second base in the service of a local team named the Athletics. He was tragically killed when he foolishly tried to jump off of a moving train and was run over at Point of Rocks, Maryland.
(Note: I’ve enclosed the actual, full obituary at the end of this story for your reading pleasure.)
Despite not having a father, Emory grew up in a loving household and was principally raised by his mother’s family which groomed him to one-day take over their machinery supply business in town. He attended local schools including the Frederick Academy, and followed by attending college at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA.
Emory returned to work in the family business, a firm he would eventually lead until his retirement in 1949. The home of the business still stands today at 36 South Market Street, within what is known as the Gomber building, which you will note is our subject’s middle name and his mother’s maiden name. Today, Flippin’ Pizza fills this retail space.
After retirement, Mr. Nusz, the little boy on that Christmas photograph taken over half a century earlier, shifted his energies toward banking, and served as a director of Frederick County National Bank over the next decade. All in all, he had certainly become one of Frederick’s leading businessmen. Mr. Nusz died on January 27th, 1960 and was buried next to his parents in Mount Olivet’s Area F/Lot 62.
On page 17 of the Frederick County, Maryland: Your Life. Your Community (Vol. III) publication, one can backtrack one page to find a delightful Christmas card sent by Jeanne Bussard, who was in her mid-late teens at the time of its sending. The photo dates from the early 1950s and was submitted by Kimberly Smith Madden.
The subject, and sender, possesses a name that is boldly familiar to many longtime Fredericktonians—Jeanne Bussard. She was the namesake for the former Jeanne Bussard Center, opened in 1965. This non-profit organization was funded by the county government and the families who supported The Arc, Association for Retarded Children of Frederick County. This important entity was founded seven years earlier in 1958. The original sheltered center was named by Jeanne’s parents, Fran and C. Lease Bussard in memory of their daughter, who died at age 21.
Jeanne Frances Bussard was born on August 23rd, 1936. Upon birth, she was plagued with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Jeanne experienced other health issues in youth as well. She was hospitalized in the winter of 1937 after contracting pneumonia. Ill-health would continue throughout her abbreviated life, precipitating a number of surgeries (primarily throat) experienced and special schooling needs. Miss Bussard certainly faced tremendous difficulties, but she is said to have “never stopped loving, laughing and learning.”
Jeanne’s vigilant parents remained ever optimistic. As a matter of fact her father was described as the most optimistic Optimist by a television station as Mr. Bussard rose in the ranks of the International Optimist organization, and began serving as the international president of the organization in 1956.
Shortly thereafter, Jeanne’s parents led the charge to create the above-mentioned shelter. In 1958, the Association for Retarded Children of Frederick County formally began.
While I’m at it, I would like to add that the Harmony Grove School (now known as Rock Creek School) opened its doors in 1959 to 24 children as the first "special" school. In 1965, the Jeanne Bussard Workshop became a reality as it would be funded jointly by The Arc and Frederick County Government. The Jeanne Bussard Workshop would begin with just six people and opened at a time when there were few school, government or community services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
For 47 years, this nonprofit served its mission of promoting and providing employment opportunities for people experiencing disabilities through education, training, rehabilitation, and work. This would be the case until 2012 when the center closed abruptly.. Fortunately, this mission has since been reinvigorated as "The Arc at Market Street", continuing the efforts begun by the Bussards so many years earlier.
They say a photograph can say a thousand words. Since I first laid eyes on this one (found on page 115) about ten years ago, I received a good feeling about this family and felt that those friends and family who received this as part of a Christmas greeting back in December, 1958 were so lucky to know the James W. Bosler family. I must confess that I don’t know this family in any way, shape or form. A few years back, I checked our cemetery records to see if any family members were actually buried here in Mount Olivet. I learned at that time that Mr. and Mrs. Bosler are at rest here in Area RR/Lot 64.
I duly filed that thought away until I decided to act on it this week for the “Story in Stone” we are trying to tell right now. A research scan of vintage, local newspapers didn’t tell me much about the family as well. I also did not find any clues that led me to believe that they were railroad enthusiasts in any way. I did find that Mr. and Mrs. Bosler were native Pennsylvanians, both hailing from the Carlisle area. They also celebrated a 50th anniversary of their wedding vows.
I learned all I know about James William Bosler from reading his obituary, found in a paper in his old hometown of Carlisle.
James’ wife, Dorothy, would pass just 46 days later, a very tough thing for the Bosler children to experience—something that happens more than you think. I found a written transcript of Dorothy’s obituary online in an archive holding Frederick News-Post obituaries. This one appeared in print on May 2nd, 2005:
Mrs. Dorothy (Hall) Bosler, 82, of Frederick, died on Saturday, April 30, 2005 after a brief illness. She was preceded in death by her husband of 61 years, James W. Bosler, who passed away on March 15, 2005.
Born on July 16, 1922 in Shippensburg, Pa., she was the daughter of the late Walter S. and Margaret P. Hall. She resided in the Frederick area since 1951. Mrs. Bosler was a member of Centennial Memorial United Methodist Church, where she taught Sunday school for several years. She was an avid gardener who loved spending time at home with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She is survived by three children, Patricia B. Siedling and husband Bill, Jill B. Cejka and husband John all of Frederick and Thomas J. Bosler and wife Cathe of Bull Head City, Ariz.; seven grandchildren, Kristen Curtis and husband Brad, Kip Siedling, Kara Siedling, Greg Thompson, Tyler Cejka and Brad Cejka all of Frederick, Sam Bosler of Bull Head City, Ariz.; Two great-granddaughters, Delaney and Finley Curtis. She is also survived by four sisters, Janet Ocker and husband Harold of Mechanicsburg, Pa., Peggy Ditzler of Shippensburg, Pa., Julia Cox of Carlisle, Pa. and Barbara Eagle of York, Pa.; one brother-in-law, George Commerer of Shippensburg, Pa.; as well as many nieces and nephews. Mrs. Bosler was preceded in death by a daughter, Christine B. Thompson; two sisters, Betty Reddig, Gladys Commerer; and a brother, Robert Hall, all of Shippensburg.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 4 at Centennial Memorial United Methodist Church, 8 W. Second St., Frederick, with the Rev. Dr. George G. Earle Jr. officiating. Serving as pallbearers will be Bill Siedling, Kip Siedling, John Cejka, Greg Thompson, Brad Curtis and Mike Ramsey. Interment in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Frederick.
From Mr. Bosler’s obituary, I learned that daughter Christine (Bosler) Thompson had predeceased her parents. She had died at the age of 53 on August 17th, 2000 after a long illness. I found her picture on Ancestry.com in the Frederick High Yearbook as a member of the Class of 1965.
Christine was buried in Mount Olivet’s Area RR/Lot 87. She is located only about ten yards from her parents. I did not get the chance to talk to any of the Bosler’s surviving children: Patricia, Juliet or Thomas. However, I am truly hoping that they see this article, and go to our comment section—at least they could fill us in on other facets of life pertaining to this iconic 1950s family!
So there you have it, three photographs that either fully explain, or simply intrigue wonder and thought in others at this all-so-special time of the years. Only one thing left to say to you and yours, Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings.
Below is the obituary of Emory M. Nusz, father of our subject Emory Gomber Nusz.
This Saturday, December the 19th, 2020, Mount Olivet Cemetery will be hosting its third annual Wreaths Across America (WAA) Day. We won’t be alone, of course, but joined simultaneously by the famed Arlington National Cemetery down the road, and over 1,600 additional locations throughout the United States, and at sea and abroad. Each site will include a host of volunteers and sponsors celebrating WAA’s mission of Remembering, Honoring and Teaching through the placement of special wreaths on veteran graves. The wreaths we place are symbolic of these three tenets.
The symbolism of wreaths has been used at funerals since at least the time of Ancient Greece, to represent a circle of eternal life. Evergreen wreaths were laid at the burial place of early Christian virgin martyrs in Europe, the evergreen representing the victory of the eternal spirit over death.
By the Victorian era, the symbolism of flowers had grown to become an elaborate language, and the symbolism of funeral wreaths was no exception. Flowers represented life and resurrection. Specific flowers were used in funeral wreaths to represent particular sentiments. Cypress and willow were used for crafting wreath frames, and were associated with mourning by the Victorians.
For the last century, wreaths have been commonly laid at the tombs of soldiers and at memorial cenotaphs during Memorial Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies. Wreaths may also be laid in memory of persons lost at sea, either from an accident or due to navy action. In a memorial service at sea, the wreath is lowered to the water and set adrift.
Back to Mount Olivet, we have over 4,000 men and women buried here who served in the US military. Many of these participated in active combat in conflicts including the American Revolution, War of 1812, the Mexican War, American Civil War, Spanish-American War, the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War and Afghanistan. As we do more and more research, we seem to find our total number of vets growing.
Decedent graves are currently marked with small flaglets, courtesy of a great effort put forth by community volunteers who came out on an unseasonably warm day early last month on November 7th. We had a few other dedicated individuals who performed this task amidst rain downpours on Veterans Day itself, November 11th. Thanks to these fine folks, we got the task complete.
These flags will serve a secondary role on Wreaths Across America Day as they will act as beacons for wreath placement, and symbolic proxies as over half our veterans’ graves will not be adorned with wreaths. You see, only 1,692 wreaths were bought/sponsored this year, plus we did not get a “1 wreath to 2 wreaths sold match” as was the case last year. Recently, on our social media site of Facebook and company website, we’ve asked participants, volunteers and others to consider bringing extra wreaths to the event (or come to the cemetery after the event) in an effort to cover more graves. Just know, that this gesture will be appreciated in ways none of us can ever fully grasp.
Let it Snow
This year, we "plow" forward, both literally and figuratively. The good news, there's a rosier forecast in store for WAA Day —as the last two years have been accompanied by steady rainfall and muddy tromps across grave areas. This year, we are looking at cloudy skies and no chance of precipitation. However, I did just use the term plow, and also made reference to past precipitation. Perhaps I should mention that we will have a new challenge at hand, thanks to our first snow of the season, falling just a few days in advance of Wreaths Across America Day.
This past Wednesday we received over half a foot of snow. Luckily, the flaglets are still visible, and this is also why I suggested having them in place (for helping us find graves in the event of snow). Keep in mind that most vets have graves marked with ground level/recessed, government-issue military plaques, usually made of bronze or granite. One inch of snow, let alone 6-8" can turn the WAA Day into a “Where’s Waldo” mystery find/hunt. Oh, the wild weather of December, and the reason very few outdoor events are scheduled in wintry months with notable exceptions such as Frederick’s annual Kris Kringle Parade and Polar Bear plunges at a plethora of nearby rivers, lakes, bays and oceans.
Our opening ceremony this year will again take place at the World War II Monument on the west side of Area EE. Here one can find a unique memorial boasting two columns, bookending an eternal flame monument and covered by the names of World War II vets who perished over 75 years ago.
Fanned out as an arch around these objects, you will find the graves of 30 veterans who lost their lives while in active duty. I’ve written about half of these individuals over this 75th anniversary year marking Victory in Europe and Victory in Japan. We are equally thankful to all the veterans here who gave their lives for our freedoms, but just like the case in 2018 marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, this is a great time to put a spotlight on the World War II soldiers, sailors, flyers, etc. whose lives lived were tragically cut short. The famed five-star general George S. Patton, Jr. said:
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”
I want to talk about a few of these men, and a woman, among those we will be honoring this weekend. Specifically, I am singling out seven buried within Area EE, home to the forementioned World War II Monument, and cornerstone of our Wreaths Across America Day commemorations since December, 2018. This section has 242 veterans buried within. With the introduction to the seven resting in peace here in Area EE, I will let obituaries and news articles (found in local newspapers) do most of the storytelling of each of these former Frederick residents.
With my introduction to follow of seven individuals resting in peace here in Area EE, I will let obituaries and news articles (found in local newspapers) do most of the storytelling about these former Frederick residents.
Wesley Dewey Dolan
Among those men buried within the confines of the World War II Monument here at Mount Olivet, one was named Wesley Dewey Dolan. S/Sgt. Dolan was born on December 12th, 1922, who knows, had he lived through the war, he could have celebrated his 98th birthday earlier this week?
Wesley was the son of Mabel Belvin and Dewey Michael Dolan of Brunswick, at which place he spent his childhood. The Virginia native moved with his family to this place because his dad was employed as a brakeman for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The family lived at 309 Maple Avenue and Wesley attended local schools. He graduated from Brunswick High School in 1940 and went to work as a clerk in a grocery store. He entered into military service on June 30th, 1942, possibly at the urging of his father who served in the United States Marine Corps in World war I, rising to the rank of staff sergeant.
Wesley D. Dolan served in the Air Corps of the US Army, and was assigned to the 442nd Army Air Force Bombardier Squadron. More specifically, Wesley Dewey Dolan served as a gunner and radioman on a bomber plane.
In searching for more information about S/Sgt. Dolan's death, I stumbled upon an announcement that a religious service in Dolan's honor took place in March of 1944 in his hometown of Brunswick.
Of additional interest was a brief mention of Wesley Dolan in a modern day memoir found on the internet. it was written by a gentleman named John (Jack) Harpster, a fellow member of the 320th bomb group under the 442nd Squadron assigned to the same B-26 bomber as Dolan. I include a link to Mr. Harpster's website: 320thbg.org/harpster_7.html
Here is a brief passage from the website that actually gave me a mild case of "researcher heartburn." It is, of course, in Mr. Harpster's own words and paints a bit of a picture for us regarding Dolan's final mission aboard a bomber plane given the name of "Shif"less.
"Newly arrived B-26 crews were first individually flown into combat with a seasoned experienced crew and then released to fly with their own stateside assigned crew. In the case of the pilots, they usually flew 6 or more missions as copilot to learn the ropes depending of course on crew availability or shortages. My introduction to combat gave rise for some serious soul searching and concern about ever completing even the magical 40 missions. My first three missions for example are spelled out by reprint (with express approval of the writer) of my personal diary I kept throughout combat days. Please forgive the childish oratory that hasn’t improved much over the past half century. Here was my December 10, 1943 introduction to combat:
#1. Well I finally got my first mission in and it nearly was my last. The target was a railroad bridge in a marshaling yard south west of Niece, France. No flak or fighters and was really a milk run. But the take off was the closest to death I ever want to come. We got caught in the prop wash of the planes ahead of us. Nearly slow rolled 10 feet off of the ground. Awfully silent and scarred me to death. We had absolutely no control and had only 140 m.p.h. Missed the ground by inches several times, but finally got straightened out. Flew very cautiously after that believe me. Rather tired after my first, of forty. I pray.
#2. What a day!! The target - a bridge east of Cannes, France. Our position, a spare ship to fill in anywhere if one dropped out. The lead ship of #3 element dropped out and we filled in. The coast of France came up and we began the run on the target. It was a beautiful bridge, easy to see. Then the flak started!!! They had us pegged perfectly and the sky was black with it. There were three hits in the bombardiers area alone and each time I thought he was a goner. "Bombs Away" and the break was to the right. Waist-top turret man badly hit, engineer wounded - plane punctured many times, many places, engines, compartments and wings. We were leaking oil and hydraulic fluids. Emergency landing in Corsica - 800 yard runway. A DC-3 crashed on the same field: 10 minutes later. The top turret man was dead with ack ack wounds in his head. Engineers arm was broken and pierced by flak. Our ship was too badly damaged to take off - so stayed in Corsica for the night. We returned to Sardinia the next afternoon by courier - a DC-3. Got to see the town there, much nicer than Sardi - rather modern and interesting. Hope to return under different circumstances.
On this 18 December mission the flak was unusually heavy and 12 of the 38 planes in our formation were hit.
The engineer, S/Sgt Wesley Dolan spent a month in the hospital after which he fully recovered. He was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) for his bravery in trying to help the deceased top turret gunner and then manning the top turret position himself in spite of a dangling arm."
So, this reminiscence did not make sense as it said that Dolan survived the mission after bravely trying to rescue the gunner. After reading Herbert Adkin's letter to Dolan's fiancee, Adelaide Webber, again, I truly believe that Mr. Harpster got the two (Dolan and Adkins) confused. I particularly believe this because Mr. Adkins apologized for his delay in writing because he was laid up with an arm wound and Harpster mentions that this was the injury to his supposed "Dolan."
And because I am Chris Haugh, I tend to go down history rabbit holes in search of the truth. I could not find a Corp. Herbert Adkins, but did find a Frank E. Adkins who received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery in aviation. This guy was the real deal, and I believe it could be him. I have included a bio and learned that he was sent to the European theater of war after great heroics in the Pacific. I also learned that Dolan's fiancee rightfully moved forward with her life.
As the earlier article states, Dolan's body was originally buried on the island of Corsica during a gas stop. Jack Harpster said that this "gas stop" involved a crash landing. Anyway, Wesley Dewey Dolan's body was returned to his home of Brunswick in November, 1948.
Within and just outside the World War II Monument area, and a few short yards away from S/Sgt Wesley Dewey Dolan’s gravesite lies those of two brothers with ties to World War II. I wrote about one of these gentlemen back in September—PFC Francis Leo Kennedy, Jr.
Kennedy is buried within the confines of the monument, and two first cousins lie by his side, both also veterans who died as young men. One of these was Charles Francis Kennedy, a member of the 115th infantry regiment of the US Army’s famed 29th Division. He lost his life on August 10th, 1944 during fighting in France. The other cousin was Ignatius Benson Keyser (born October 27th, 1920). Keyser was a member of the 51st Armored Infantry Battalion of the US Army’s 4th Armored Division. He was killed in action in Belgium on Christmas Day, 1944 as part of the legendary Battle of Bastogne.
Francis Leo was the son of Leo Kennedy, Sr. and Flora Victoria Marsh who once resided at 219 E. Church Street in downtown Frederick. Kennedy was killed on the Tunisian front in North Africa on March 31st, 1943. Previous to going into the service he worked with his father at the Kennedy Stove House before serving in the US Army’s 16th Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division.
On May 30th, 1948, the dedication ceremony was held for Mount Olivet’s World War II Memorial. One of the most poignant moments of the ceremony came with the placing of a wreath of dedication to all those Frederick young men who made the greatest sacrifice on behalf of their country. A Gold Star mother was chosen for this important honor. It was Mrs. Flora Kennedy, mother of Francis Leo Kennedy, Jr. Ironically, she would have the distinct honor of placing a symbolic wreath on the monument on this day.
Mrs. Kennedy would attend a very important funeral here a few months later on October 5th, 1948. Her son, Francis Leo, and two nephews would be buried here, after having been buried first overseas. Mrs. Kennedy had another son, William Chester, who ascended to the rank of Private, 1st Class in the Marine Corps after being drafted into service in April, 1946. He would also attend the burial service at Mount Olivet for his brother and cousins.
Sadly, just short of a year later, William C. Kennedy, himself, would die as a result of a horrific car accident near Funkstown in Washington County. The sedan in which William was traveling within, collided with a parked steamroller alongside the roadway. It was remembered as one of the worst in this part of Maryland’s history, compounded by the fact that the four occupants of the car (that a friend of Kennedy's was driving) died as a result. All four young men were military veterans. The September 25th, 1949 edition of the Frederick Post announced to the community the tragic loss on its front page.
I first read about William’s untimely death back in early September in conjunction with research for a tour I gave to remember the 75 anniversary of Victory in Japan (V-J) Day. Interestingly, just the other day, I was wandering around in another part of Area EE doing some advance work for our WAA event. I found the grave of Archie D. Whisner, Jr. (born Feb. 10, 1927) had no flag. I had not heard of this Whisner, or though I thought. I made it a point to do some research and found that he was one of the hapless passengers in William C. Kennedys vehicle in Funkstown, that sad night of September 25th. His story is told in the above clipping.
The two other victims of the accident, Raymond George Brown (b. Feb 9, 1925), and Charles Elmer Linton (b. Aug. 26, 1927), are also buried here on Area EE in adjoining lots to their friend, Archie Whisner.
In this photo, the grave monuments of three of the victims are visible. Raymond Brown's upright stone is to the right of his family's larger lot monument. To the immediate left of the family stone is the ground level flat marker for Charles E. Linton in his family's lot. Diagonally behind the Linton family stone (to the left) is Archie Whisner's military marker (partially blocked) with the Whisner family lot stone further back.
Meet the Smiths
Not all veterans die in war or as a result of tragic accidents. To end on a more positive note, what about the majority of former military men and women that have the opportunity to enjoy the peace that not only comes after battle, but because of it? I found two such, who were a married couple, on the southeast side of Area EE, along the cemetery drive that parallels Grove Stadium and Stadium Drive. Both husband and wife served in the US Navy. They died one month apart and are buried in Area EE/Lot 137A.
These are just a few of the many local veterans who put their lives on the line for us and our freedoms. Whether you participate in our wreath laying ceremony on Saturday or not, please devote a few seconds to remember those US veterans buried in cemeteries and memorial parks throughout the country and world. Like us, they had their regular routines disrupted like we have by Covid-19 and weather events such as this week’s snowstorm. But unlike us, some of these local, young people never had the opportunity “to grow old” in our beautiful town and county.
And by the way, feel free to bring a brush, shovel, broom to respectfully clear the gravestone and perhaps an extra wreath to place at the site of a US flaglet in one of the sections we are not able to cover with our WAA shipment.
Earlier this week, one of my true career mentors celebrated his 94th birthday on December 9th. This is none other than George B. Delaplaine, Jr.—lifetime newspaper publisher and cable television pioneer.
I mentioned in last week’s blog story that I graduated from the University of Delaware with a concentration in Mass Communications and History. Over 30 years ago, back in 1989, I was hired by one of Mr. Delaplaine’s companies, then known as Frederick Cablevision. As a wide-eyed, recent graduate, I was given my career start here, working as an audio-video specialist for the firm’s local television outlet known as Cable Channel 30 (soon to become Frederick Cable Channel 10).
I could go on for days about Cable 10 and the incredible experiences had over my twelve years of employment under the Delaplaine and Randall families. For a good part of my time with this group, I served as the youngest manager and I always appreciated the trust my bosses had put in me as we did some pretty cool stuff for the community. One such was the televising of local sports such as live, Frederick Keys baseball games, a constant since their inception in 1989. We had a daily newscast Monday-Friday, public affairs talk shows, music performance showcases of local bands, a dining offering, live political cross-talk and even a Frederick version of the popular 1990s television phenomenon of Fox's "Cops."
Of all these, however, the most satisfying moments featured my entry into the world of presenting history to viewers, culminating with the opportunity to produce historical documentaries like my idol, Ken Burns. For anyone that knows the Delaplaine and Randall families, history reigns supreme—especially local Frederick history. Looking back at my own history, I was certainly at the best place I could be. It was 25 years this past week that I was fortunate to win my first award for film documentary work.
Of all these, however, the most satisfying moments featured my entry into the world of presenting history to viewers, culminating with the opportunity to produce historical documentaries like my idol, Ken Burns. For anyone that knows the Delaplaine and Randall families, history reigns supreme—especially local Frederick history. Looking back at my own history, I was certainly at the best place I could be.
Mr. Delaplaine, and the corporation he chaired, gave me the opportunity not only to display my talents, but more so trained me to perfect those talents, while adding greatly to my professional skill set in so many ways. The parent company to Frederick Cablevision was called the Great Southern Printing & Manufacturing Company, incorporated in 1888. Eight years prior, George B. Delaplaine Jr.'s grandfather had started a printing company with various partners. In 1883, this group started a daily newspaper in an effort to further monetize their print operation. In time, this venture would eventually come to be known as The Frederick News-Post.
This endeavor, originally launched as The News, would certainly become a family affair, but not necessarily by choice as Mr. Delaplaine's father and multiple uncles were somewhat pushed to work for "the paper" because of a tragic circumstance. Mr. Delaplaine, the third generation under this umbrella, added to the printing and publishing corporation's portfolio by introducing cable-television here in Frederick in 1966. Ironically, I too was conceived in this year and born in January, 1967.
I came into Great Southern at a very exciting time, because cable-television truly came of age in the 1980s and 1990s. When I started, the company had 300 employees in all its divisions. That number would grow to nearly 500 going into the new millennium—one that saw us offering digital products and most importantly, internet service.
When thinking back on my day-to-day experiences in that job, one word—family— can succinctly sum up my twelve-year tenure before our company, known then as GS Communications, Inc., was sold to Adelphia Communications of upstate New York. This occurred in the fall of 2001. From day one on the job, I felt as if I was part of a family—my employees and staff made me feel this way, my co-workers and fellow managers made me feel this, and my supervisory staff made me feel this. Yes, there were a few bad days and plenty of unique challenges inherent with my job, but when pursuing these, I always felt that “my work family” had my back.
In respect to that family, I fondly remember working with members of the sister company (Frederick News-Post), not to mention the Randall family members, related through Mr. Delaplaine’s sister, Frances Ann Randall. "Franny" passed two years back in May, 2018 and is resting within our hallowed grounds on Area DD in a lot purchased by her parents, George Birely Delaplaine, Sr. and wife Ruth Carty Delaplaine.
With it being holiday time, I recall our departmental Cable 10 Christmas parties, and the annual joint holiday party shared with the News-Post staffers. I also recall the annual holiday bonus we received from the family, not to be expected, but always appreciated. In reminiscing with former co-workers from both companies "of old" under the Delaplaine moniker, I lament the slow extinction of the magical entities of large, family-run companies and the atmosphere I have described. If you are lucky enough to work for one currently, cherish and appreciate your good-fortune!
The vibe and company culture I experienced reflected the Delaplaine family (and my connections of George B. Delaplaine, Jr. and Frances Ann Randall) to a T, as they used to say. And with this particular company, that “T” was a symbolic one, found as the middle initial of the firm’s original founder, one all employees would become acquainted with upon their new staff member orientation. The gentleman's name was William T. Delaplaine, and from a historical point of view, it's easy to see that he created a family atmosphere that would shroud a corporate culture passed down through employees over the next 120+ years.
William T. Delaplaine
In this heightened season of “giving,” I thought it was the perfect time to chronicle the life, and death, of this newspaper and printing icon. With his newspaper, William T. Delaplaine gave the citizenry the news they sought, and in doing so, gave advertisers the customers they needed. Delaplaine even gave back to the community in benevolent ways, something that would always define the corporation and still holds true locally in the Delaplaine and Randall names through with gracious work of respective family charitable trusts.
The roots of this latter attribute actually played a role in part to our subject's untimely death at the age of 35. This occurred during one of Frederick’s first, concerted wide-scale efforts to feed those less fortunate through a hugely, successful food drive. Sadly for William T. Delaplaine, a sacrifice of his own personal health in the name of charity came as a result of tireless work put toward this benevolent endeavor. He died of pneumonia in February, 1895.
Along the lines of George Bayley in Frank Capra’s holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life’”, had William T. Delaplaine never been born, I surely wouldn’t be in the seat I am today writing this blog as historian of Mount Olivet. The “original” Mr. Delaplaine’s grave site is less than three football field lengths away from the desk at which I sit. I often think of this fact, along with his inspiring story when exploring the environs of Area Q which boasts his family burial lot.
William Theodore Delaplaine was a native of Frederick County, and rose to prominence at an early age with business pursuits begun at twenty years of age. His boyhood home had a direct influence on him as it doubled as a prosperous family business. This was the prominent site known as Michaels Mill, south east of Buckeystown, and located adjacent the Monocacy River and accessed today by the riverside road of the same name of Michael’s Mill.
I cannot do justice to the amazing biography penned by legendary News-Post writer Folger McKinsey. This was written for inclusion within the History of Frederick County, Maryland, (published in 1910), as part of a tribute to William T.’s son, Robert Edmonston Delaplaine.
William Theodore Delaplaine, only son of Theodore C. and Annie (Edmonston) Delaplaine, was born at “Monocacy Mills,” in Baker’s Valley, Frederick County, Md., January 3, 1860. He received his early education in the district school near his home, and his boyhood was spent in the country. In early life, he manifested that spirit of enterprise and ambition which marked his mature years.
In 1875, he removed with his family to Frederick City, and in 1877 was employed by Mr. James H. Gambrill in milling. However, Mr. Delaplaine was impatient to reach a sphere of greater usefulness, and, having decided upon a business career, he entered Eastman Business College, Poughkeepsie. N. Y., where he took a full course and graduated with high honors. He returned to Frederick not only equipped with his native energy, industry and perseverance, but well trained for a successful business career.
In 1880, Mr. Delaplaine opened a job printing office on the third floor of the old Macgill building, where the Citizens’ National Bank now stands, the firm name being Schley, Marken & Delaplaine. The plant was afterwards removed to the corner of Court and Patrick Streets, and from there to the upper story of the Whalen building, near the Square Corner. The firm passed through several changes bearing the name of Schley & Delaplaine, and W. T. Delaplaine & Company, keeping the latter until its incorporation as the Great Southern Printing and Manufacturing Company, its present title. The steady growth of the business demanded a change of location, and, in 1887 the building now occupied having been completed, it was leased.
Recognizing the demand in this city for a daily paper that would be a newspaper, the Daily News was established in 1883 followed, in a few months by the Weekly News. Mr. Delaplaine was determined that The News should gain and maintain the leadership, therefore the Morning Call was bought and consolidated with The News, and afterwards The Times was also purchased. In connection with the publication of the paper, Mr. Delaplaine built up a printing business that extended to all parts of the State. The plant has grown in extent and value until it has become the largest in Maryland, Baltimore City only excepted.
Mr. Delaplaine’s energy was not, however, absorbed by his business. The growth and progress of the city were matters of great concern to him, and he was always ready to assist every legitimate public undertaking. He was interested in the sale of typewriters, real estate, and bicycles. Mr. Delaplaine was a man of strict integrity, and great earnestness of purpose. His indomitable energy established his business through years of hard work, and brought financial success.
An iconic, local photograph from 1890 captures the first demonstration of electric light in Frederick. The photo was taken in one of the upper floors of The News office at 42 North Market. William T. Delaplaine is pictured sitting sideways against the wall in the center of the photograph taken by J. Davis Byerly and assistant J. Frederick Kreh.
In personal life, William Theodore Delaplaine was married, April 2, 1884, to Fannie, daughter of the late George E. Birely, and a sister of George and Edward Birely, of the firm of George K. Birely & Sons. They have four sons: 1, Robert Edmonston; 2, George Birely; 3, William Theodore; 4, Edward Schley.
These boys were brought into the newspaper business as children. Little did they know that “the family business” would end up being the life work for three of the four boys.
A Life's Punctuation Mark
I referenced earlier a food effort drive conducted in the winter of 1895. Apparently, this was sparked by a severe winter that befell the community. I found a few articles about this in The Frederick News, in which the company did simply more than just give the project publicity within its newspaper columns.
William T. Delaplaine contracted pneumonia through the busy week of the food drive in mid-February. My friend John Ashbury's book entitled "...and All our yesterdays," includes a story handed down to Delaplaine's granddaughter, Franny Randall. She recounted that her grandfather not only lent the offices of the newspaper for food collection and distribution. Mrs. Randall went on to add:
"He pitched in to help give out the supplies. All kinds of canned goods, flour, any kind of staples like that. Because the winter was so hard, and people were out of work and didn’t have ways to get food and so forth. So it was after a blizzard, I believe, in 1895, that my grandfather got pneumonia and died within a few days. Of course, they didn’t have any wonder drugs or anything in that time, and so pneumonia was like a kiss of death.”
After a short battle of a few days, William T. Delaplaine succumbed on the 19th in the privacy of his home at 75 East Patrick Street, surrounded by family members. Folger McKinsey wrote the following passage for his epitaph:
His private and domestic character was beautiful, and his unswerving integrity, and generous, kindly nature won for him not only the love of his immediate friends, but a full measure of public esteem and respect. As would be expected, the newspaper he founded spared no words in their glowing obituary tribute.
William T. Delaplaine was laid to rest on the afternoon of Thursday, February 21st in Mount Olivet's Area Q/Lot 254 as mentioned earlier. At the time, this was the southern boundary of the cemetery's property.
William T. Delaplaine left a grieving widow, four sons under the age of 10 and a successful newspaper and printing corporation. Relatives, including Fannie's brother Charles, and other professionals kept the business afloat until William and Fannie's sons came of age to run the business themselves. The fore-mentioned Charles also assisted his sisters in raising these youngsters into manhood as he took up residence in the Delaplaine household.
If the author's research calculations are correct, the building (2nd from left with locator pin) at 125 E. Patrick Street was the former home of William T. Delaplaine at the time of his death in 1895. Note that the future headquarters of the newspaper is located in the distance and to the right. Formerly the old trolley terminal (brick building with green trim) this building is on the southeast corner of the intersection between E. Patrick and Carroll streets and has been discussed in recent years as the proposed site for a new, downtown hotel and convention center.
The youngest son of the newspaper founder, named Edward Schley Delaplaine will be a subject of a "Story in Stone" blog and is a man I truly wish I would have got to meet. He studied to become a lawyer and served as a judge on Maryland's Court of Appeals, however a primary love of his life was history and specifically, local Frederick history. He authored biographies on Francis Scott Key and Thomas Johnson, Jr., and was responsible for opening the Roger Brooke Taney Museum in the 1930s. Up until his death, Judge Delaplaine was involved as guiding force and emcee of every historical commemorative anniversary you could think of. He died on May 21st, 1989, just one day after my college graduation. I started with the company the following fall on November 3rd, 1989.
So while I'm handing out thanks, I certainly owe one to Judge Delaplaine too, and I certainly would be remiss if I overlooked the original founder of the company as well—thank you William T. Delaplaine!
Author's Note: Special thanks to Marlene B. Young of the Delaplaine Foundation, Inc. for her unending support of my professional endeavors (including a few photos for this project)....it's now been thirty-one years and counting.
A familiar name caught my eye a few weeks as I was planting veteran flags on the cemetery’s Area Q. As a matter of fact, I can say it's not only a familiar name, but almost familial. The moniker is not that of a veteran, or a known relative, but I can attest that it is carved upon the face of what can best be described as a substantial monument. The name reads "John W. Cook" (the “W” standing for William).
Since I was a little boy, my father made sure I knew the story of an ancestor who had come to this country in 1852 from Germany. His name was Johann Wilhelm Koch, and he was my father’s GG grandfather. This immigrant was the pivot point for not only my dad’s first major foray into the wonderful world of genealogy/family history process, but mine as well.
Having nothing to do with Frederick, Maryland, my close-knit Cook family have populated the small town of Delaware City, Delaware since Wilhelm’s arrival from New York City in the mid-1850s. I, myself, moved here to Frederick in 1974 from this former river town, known more today for its neighboring oil refinery than for its one-time standing as the eastern gateway to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. The town is located in the northern third of the state along the Delaware River, a few miles south of the town of New Castle and Wilmington further up the road.
I have vivid childhood memories of the Cook family “Cousins’ Club,” a fun-loving group that was highly active throughout the second half of the 20th century. They held annual reunions in the form of Christmas and Easter parties. Each summer, a hay wagon loaded with Cook cousins departed town being pulled by a large tractor and headed for nearby Augustine Beach on the river, for the yearly picnic.
This same group also spent plenty of time together at a shared beach cottage owned by one of my father’s great-aunts bought back in the late 1930s and located in Old Fenwick Island (Lea and 138th streets in today’s north Ocean city). My Dad painted a vivid picture of childhood beach trips with particular memories of adults playing cards and enjoying alcoholic libations until the wee hours of the morning, while the kid cousins were "packed in like sardines" on surplus army cots in the attic, sleeping head to toe, and without air conditioning.
The reason I bring any of this up is due to the reason that history has a way of conjuring up our own past experiences and memories of family that are no longer with us. I’ve said many times before, in this blog, that cemeteries are incredible portals to connect and give context to not only the past—but “our own personal” past, and those we never got the chance to meet as they occupy much higher stations on our respective family trees.
In my case, the Cook family progenitors included Johann Wilhelm Koch (1827-1862), a carpenter by trade, and his wife, Catherine Sebastian (1832-1912), who arrived separately in America in the early 1850 from the Alsace region of France. By early 1862, these two newcomers to America found themselves the parents of two boys, Adam (b. 1857) and John (b. 1859), with a baby girl (Elizabeth) on the way to be born in June of that year. Sadly, Wilhelm died of smallpox in April of that year, only 34 years of age. His son, John Cook, would follow in his father’s footsteps as a carpenter, but also died relatively young at the age of 51 in the year 1911. John's wife had died of whooping cough back in 1903.
Surprisingly, my GG grandfather is buried in a very understated family plot devoid of upright markers in Delaware City’s original Catholic cemetery. He is buried there with his mother, wife, siblings and a few children. John T. Cook's father, “Wilhelm,” is resting in peace just across the fence in the neighboring Presbyterian Church burying ground.
Well that’s my personal trip down memory road, thanks for joining me. You see, that is what this monument in Area Q did to me—it sent me into a time passage!
So that's all well and good, but who the heck is Mount Olivet’s John William Cook? If anything else, I can tell you that he was a man with a much more impressive monument than my Delaware Cooks.
John William Cook, Jr.
I learned two things that help tp explain the substantial marble grave monument that sits above his gravesite on Area Q/Lot 260:
1.) John William Cook, Jr. was a prosperous farmer, and 2.) He married quite well in respect to money and prominence.
Our subject was born June 18th, 1825, the son of John William Cook, Sr. (1804-1864) and wife Christina Myers (1799-1861). He was the oldest of eight children, five boys and three girls. His father was a German immigrant, born Johann Wilhelm Koch in 1804 in Vlotho, Westfalen, Prussia. This gentleman emigrated to America in the early 1800s and married the earlier mentioned Christina Myers in Trinity Chapel, Frederick’s German Reformed Church, in September, 1824.
Miss Myers appears to have been a local girl, born at Silver Run in today’s Carroll County, but was still Frederick County at the time of her birth. Christina’s grandfather was a German immigrant who settled in York, PA. The family appears to have moved to the Jefferson vicinity of Frederick, likely close to, or on, Catoctin Mountain. This is where I presume she met her husband, John William Cook, Sr. Both can be found here in the 1860 US Census, and would be buried within the decade in the town’s German Reformed Church burying ground.
Christina (Myers) Cook’s nephew, George Washington Myers, can be found living at a locale known as Church Hill on the east side of the mountain on the original Carrollton Manor land patent made by Charles Carrollton the Settler around 1724.His property is shown on the 1873 Titus Atlas in the Buckeystown District. George had taken over the family farm homestead at the time of his father’s (Peter Myers, Jr.) death in 1870.
Peter Myers, Jr. was our subject John William Cook’s maternal uncle, making George Washington Myers a first-cousin. Peter is buried at Church Hill’s namesake “church,” once known as St. Matthew’s German Reformed Church which also shared their house of worship with a Lutheran congregation. The burying ground sits on both sides of Ballenger Creek Pike, and the church today is known as Emmanuel Trinity Lutheran Church.
South of the Myers’ property was “Carrollton,” a 273-acre farm belonging to our subject John William Cook, and wife, Charlotte. It actually came through Charlotte’s family. Cook had married the former Charlotte Thomas on September 3rd, 1856. John had known Miss Thomas for quite some time as he can be found in the 1850 census living on the Thomas family plantation and working as a farm hand. He would stay here on this farm for the rest of his life.
Charlotte was born on March 9th, 1823. She was named for her mother, Charlotte Thomas, and her father was George Thomas. Both are buried at the nearby Manor Reformed Cemetery, along with an older brother. Four of Charlotte Cook's siblings are buried in Mount Olivet.
I was interested in finding the family farm, but there is not much that still exists in terms of structures. The 1840 brick farmhouse and a few outbuildings were captured (as part of the Cook-Culler Farmstead) a few decades back thanks to a Maryland Historical Trust inventory survey which can be found online at: mht.maryland.gov/secure/medusa/PDF/Frederick/F-1-212.pdf
There’s not much more to tell about this couple as they had no offspring. Sort of ironic as the theme here has been genealogy and the layers of ancestors and descendants that a given individual may have. John William Cook had to deal with debilitating circumstances late in life, brought on by paralysis and a few mishaps along the way as the following news clippings will attest to.
John W. Cook, Jr. died February 21st, 1897. He would be laid to rest in Mount Olivet four days later.
Charlotte (Thomas) Cook would eventually move into the City of Frederick, residing at 76 E. Church Street. She died on June 21st, 1904.
Although I have no relatives of my own in Mount Olivet, I have to say that this substantial, familial marker and monument to the Cooks will remind me of my own family history and how it continues to inspire me to research and learn more about my roots. Who knows, if I go back far enough in that German line, I may find that my relatives may be distantly related to this early Frederick family. Herborn, Germany of my personal heritage is only 105 miles from Vlotho, home to Mount Olivet's John William Cook's ancestors.
When it comes to genealogy, I guess you can't have too many "Cooks" in the kitchen, can you?
Welcome to a new dimension of Mount Olivet, you could say it's our virtual, or cyber, cemetery. Mount Olivet was a latecomer to the internet as we didn't create our first business website until 2007 and a FaceBook page went up in 2012. I hate to sound crass but our early online offerings were about as lively as the genre we were showcasing. We decided to change that four years ago back in 2016.
We creatively revamped our website and FaceBook offerings. One of the principal components that would enhance and transform both entities came with the introduction of an internet-based blog which we entitled “Stories in Stone.” This was no ordinary blog, as it was our first step into "internet-driven preservation." Weekly features began being written on those buried within this historic, hallowed ground. The pieces were designed to inform, educate and entertain readers. Most of all they were an attempt to bring back the memories of those who have gone before.
In recent weeks, we have been working on a new website that will improve our business ability to work with customers. The site is currently live (mountolivetcemeteryinc.com) and has a different look and feel from the one you find yourself on right now. We will continue adding more interactive tools to assist those looking to pre-plan for their cemetery future, and of course serve those unfortunate families who are "at-need" in the present context, having experienced the recent loss of a loved one.
In the process, we decided to treat our existing website as "an adaptive reuse," fitting as this is the case with so many buildings in Downtown Frederick. To borrow from Visit Frederick (my former employer) and their popular tagline "Hip & Historic," this site will continue to serve as the principal archival home of virtual history for Mount Olivet. In keeping with that theme, we decided to create a new Uniform Resource Locator, or URL: mountolivethistory.com.
Frederick's Mount Olivet Cemetery means different things to different people. We have created a brand, hopefully synonymous with beautiful grounds, helpful staff, an eclectic collection of monuments both old and new, rich history, peerless services and products, and most of all peace and tranquility. We can only do so much as the staff of this iconic resting ground, however the true character of Mount Olivet can be measured by the achievements garnered, and legacies left, by those buried herein. In our case, we have over 40,000 former lives, featuring many of those responsible for giving us the town and county we appreciate today. We have monuments to them here, everywhere you look.
For neophytes to our particular cyber-offerings, the "Stories in Stone" blog features illustrated essays about former Frederick residents buried within Mount Olivet’s gates. Yes, some of these individuals stand out for their unique achievements on local, state and national levels such as Francis Scott Key, Barbara Fritchie and Thomas Johnson, Jr. Others can be remembered for their misfortunes. All in all, most of those “resting in peace” here just lived simple, ordinary lives, and our written online pieces all end the same, with the main subject dying.
I've generally been able to find a "silver lining" of some sort to highlight and mesh individuals and their lives with the context of Frederick, Maryland's rich heritage. Best of all, I have the opportunity to introduce (or reintroduce) these folks to our readers. I'm sure in most cases, the subjects would be thankful of the "gift of remembrance." Of course, there are some instances in which an unfortunate end has not been readily handed down through generations due to shame or obvious reasons.
Thanks to the internet, we have the ability to reach readers throughout the world. This novelty has allowed audience members to "reach" back as well, sharing with us stories, pictures and information about those folks who happen to be loved ones, ancestors or just plain people of interest buried here in Frederick's most historic burying ground. To continue that thought, some may find our "stories" immediately after initial publishing, while others stumble upon them weeks, months, and even years later while conducting Google and Yahoo searches during family history research. This will continue to happen into the future, something that makes the research and publishing task involved well worth the effort. A big "thank you" goes out to the internet, as this is true historic preservation using electronic media.
Markers of a Lifetime
With 40,000 interments in our midst, roughly the same population as our state capital of Annapolis, I regularly pass countless grave sites without a thought, as their names are nothing more than “names in stone.” However, as I have found through my research and writings, the monuments and plaques are much more than that. Grave markers, monuments, and tombstones are tributes to, and representations of, past lives. Each provides a tangible connection to the decedent.
From a religious perspective, I’ve been taught that the spirit of our loved ones will always be with us, and are “watching from above.” Whatever you personally believe, these works in granite and marble are tangible, standing as tributes to lives once lived, be them spectacular, tragic or ordinary.
Gravestones can bring a sense of reality and closure for some people. For others, they serve to keep the memory of that person eternal. These "stones" stand proof that a life was once lived, and associate it with a tangible geographical location within a large cemetery or memorial park, church graveyard or family burial ground on an ancestral farm or plantation. This is a lasting footprint.
Each and every day, I see individuals coming to Mount Olivet to plan and purchase monuments for themselves and loved ones who have passed. Some designs are playful, others are serious. Most can best be described as traditional. I also see people decorating and cleaning grave stones, especially this time of year. For a modest fee, the cemetery provides a service to professionally clean monuments with non-invasive techniques.
Thanks to our preservation program, we are now in a position to embark on cleaning and making high quality repairs and restoration efforts to vintage stones on our grounds.
For over a decade, the Mount Olivet Board of Directors had entertained the idea of establishing a preservation-themed fund with the Community Foundation. The idea was first pitched, and championed by the late Colleen Remsberg, longtime Board member and immediate past president. Ms. Remsberg passed away in May, 2018, but not before she saw the Mount Olivet Preservation and Enhancement Fund become an IRS accredited 501(c)(3) public charity in 2017. The mission reads as follows:
The mission of the Mount Olivet Cemetery Preservation and Enhancement Fund is to assist in the conservation of the natural beauty and historic integrity of Mount Olivet Cemetery and to increase public knowledge and appreciation of its unique, cultural, historic, and natural resources through charitable and educational programs.
Putting this in layman’s terms, we continue taking steps to preserve the history of this great “garden cemetery,” a community institution since the 1850s. In doing so, we want to safeguard the cemetery’s historic records, structures and grave monuments herein. We have taken a bit of a head start as can be exemplified by the fore-mentioned “Stories in Stone” articles and MountOlivetvets.com website, along with public lectures and our occasional commemorative events.
A month-and-a-half ago, in October, we hosted a gentleman named Jonathan Appel, one of the country's top experts in cemetery monument restoration. Jonathan owns Atlas Preservation, located in Southington, Connecticut and presented a workshop to participants providing history and context to the examples of monuments found here in Mount Olivet. This was his third annual visit to Mount Olivet. Each trip, he has explained to audiences what has happened to many of our monuments over the years in terms of wear and tear. Mr. Appel also gave instruction and tips on how to repair and clean our historic cemetery gravestones.
Jonathan Appell has over 25 years of experience preserving, restoring, and repairing gravestones and monuments. A recent work project of note is “the Knight’s Tomb” in Jamestown, quite possibly the oldest existing gravestone in America, dating back to the 1630s. Jonathan continues to spread his knowledge by participation in seminars and workshops around the country and assists historic cemeteries and burying grounds with recommendations on conservation equipment, tools and repair products.
Participants got to see multiple monuments repaired and actually took part in cleaning gravestones themselves. In addition to having our staff fix the stones within our capability, we intend on raising funds to continue bringing talented gentlemen like Mr. Appell to assist us in repairing many more.
The special event took place on October 7th (2020) as part of our new Friends of Mount Olivet Cemetery initiative. This membership group is an extension of the Mount Olivet Preservation and Enhancement Fund and will continue to host activities like these designed to generate enthusiasm, volunteers and fundraising through engaging and entertaining educational programs, research projects, gravestone preservation, special event planning and anniversary commemorations.
The Power of the Internet
For as much sadness that I witness firsthand in my job, I see an equal amount of joyful remembrance for those who have passed. I also see family historians (from both the professional and amateur ranks) reveling in discoveries made through ancestral pilgrimages.
I know genealogy is not for the faint of heart, but the internet innovations of Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.com, Fold3, Newspapers.com and Findagrave.com have been godsends, allowing ease in time and effort in finding pertinent resources. The latter of the sites mentioned certainly drives my point home, as you can make a "virtual" visit to a gravestone in a cemetery anywhere in the world as long as its been documented by a Findagrave volunteer. Here one can gaze upon the final resting place and stone of a long-lost ancestor. In some cases, you may also find obituaries, photos and links to other family members. We continue the story from there with our subjects who have been featured with "Stories in Stone."
In 2018, we launched a companion "sister-website" entitled www.MountOlivetVets.com. This website has a similar mission to FindaGrave.com and one day will contain memorial pages for the over 4,000 military veterans buried at Mount Olivet. Here you will find pictures of grave monuments and military-issued stones/markers and obituaries along with vital, personal and military record information. In some cases, we feature photographs of the deceased which allows users to put a face with a name, and so much more—a life.
We finished a first phase of creating pages for over 600 World War I vets. We now are slowly adding Revolutionary War and War of 1812 soldiers. Meanwhile, we have volunteers slowly compiling info on Civil War and World War II soldiers buried in Mount Olivet.
The site as a whole can best be described as "a work in progress," and will continued to be embellished. The hope is to find volunteer researchers in our "Friends group" in an effort to make pages for all the vets here in Mount Olivet. In addition, we humbly ask for the assistance of descendants, historians and friends to provide us with photographs and/or additional information of note. We also want to link to other sources of information regarding our vets, and the training and battles they participated in. The internet will continue to dictate the success and strength of this information resource for not only users, but us here at the cemetery. We are most excited about the opportunity to acquire additional info, scans of pictures and documents of these men and women from relatives all over the world which can add greatly to our preservation efforts pertaining to those buried here.
Some people go into cemeteries and simply see names and dates chiseled in stone. Many of us see much, much more. I continue to learn more about the lives of Mount Olivet’s residents through studying grave stones, researching our blog, collecting images and documenting stories told to me by visiting descendants (regarding their relatives). Our goal is to continue sharing these gifts with you, the reader, not to mention future generations of the dearly departed wherever they may live.
In years to come, we hope to have have much more online information about those buried here.
I want to mention the online opportunity that exists now for charitable donating to our Mount Olivet Preservation and Enhancement Fund (MOCPEF) on Giving Tuesday, or anytime throughout the year. A formal partnership was formed last November with the Community Foundation of Frederick County, our fiduciary overseer for the fund.
Many people are well aware of Giving Tuesday, also stylized as #Giving Tuesday for internet social networking purposes. This event, occurring on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, celebrates its 6th anniversary this week, as it began back in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York City along with the United Nations Foundation. It's a “tongue in cheek” response to the post Thanksgiving commercialization of Black Friday and Cyber Monday has steadily been growing in popularity, now firmly established as an international day of giving at the beginning of the holiday season. Over $60 million was raised last year on this day.
As mentioned earlier, our Friends group members and volunteers hold the key to unlocking and preserving so much more of our cemetery's rich history. in the near future, efforts will expand to educational partnerships such as school field trips, interpretive historic wayside displays and unique commemorative plantings. Best of all, we will have the opportunity, and more so the financial support, to clean, preserve and repair broken and illegible gravestones and monuments in the cemetery’s historic section.
We appreciate any assistance you can give, be it monetarily, or simply volunteering family information and photograph scans of relatives interred here. Please click the links below to learn about contributing to our Preservation & Enhancement Fund (Immediate Need Projects Fund or CFFC's Perpetual Preservation Fund), or joining our Friends of Mount Olivet group.
Find the link to the application form below. It may just make unique gift idea for the holidays. We accept checks (made out to the Mount Olivet Cemetery Preservation and Enhancement Fund) and will supply paperwork for charitable giving tax purposes.
Feel free to reach out to me to discuss further and learn more about how you can help preserve this amazing outdoor and virtual museum of Frederick's history. It's literally and figuratively, the gift of a lifetime.
“I hope I can be the autumn leaf, who looked at the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully it knew life was a gift.”
It's been a highly unusual, and disappointing, year for so many reasons but three things have given me calm and serenity over the past eight months since Covid-19 came into my life and yours: gazing at the ocean, watching my sons play youth baseball and most recently, viewing an array of colors decorating the trees of my yard, and my workplace here in Mount Olivet.
The Coronavirus had little to no impact on my experiences with the three, fore-mentioned activities at all. Sadly, winter will put a damper on things for a while as baseball is shut-down until next spring, and I won’t be able to spend relaxing days sitting on the beach (and certainly don't plan on swimming) until next April at the earliest. As for the leaves, my boys and I spent several hours last weekend with yard-work, raking and bagging for proper removal. Meanwhile, here at the cemetery, the Technicolor performance is about complete as well. There are more leaves on the ground than on the trees.
This past week, I gave extra attention to watching our hard-working grounds crew enact their annual process of clearing 100 acres of “the gifts of autumn," slowly browning as they crumple. That's right, for those of you who dread cleaning up the leaves in your own yard, just think about the five staff members we assign this "arboreal" task.
This week's "Story in Stone" is no more than an ode to the beautiful foliage that graces our Mid-Atlantic domicile. Thankfully, Covid-19 didn't spoil the leaf-peep show as the vibrancy of different colors on trees is as varied as the face coverings we have been required to don this year. As October turned to November, we find ourselves fast approaching the kickoff of the holiday season with a true weather turning point in December. The brilliant leaves are dissipating, but unfortunately Covid-19 is not following suit. I have to laugh in thinking that unlike us humans, the trees certainly don't look better unmasked.
Below is a time lapse photo documentation of a favorite tree in my personal backyard, here in Frederick. It is an aptly named maple tree called "Autumn Blaze." The three photos below represent different stages over a 40-day duration from October 11th-November 20th.
In case you were wondering, autumn 2020 began on September 22nd and runs through December 21st. It is defined as the season of the year between summer and winter during which temperatures gradually decrease. It has taken on the more common name of “fall” in the United States due to the fact that leaves fall from the trees at this time.
Author Natalie Wolchover wrote an article about the season moniker (autumn) in October, 2012 for a website titled LiveScience. Here is a poignant snippet:
"Autumn," a Latin word, first appears in English in the late 14th century, and gradually gained on "harvest, the original name for the season." In the 17th century, "fall" came into use, almost certainly as a poetic complement to "spring," and it competed with the other terms.
Finally, in the 18th century, "harvest" had lost its seasonal meaning altogether, and "fall" and "autumn" emerged as the two accepted names for the third season. But by the 19th century, "fall" had become an "Americanism": a word primarily used in the United States and one that was frowned upon by British lexicographers.
The persistence of two terms for the third season in the United States, while somewhat of a mystery, may have something to do with the spread of English to the American continent at the very epoch when "fall" began jockeying for position with "autumn": the 17th century. At that time, both terms were adopted stateside, and the younger, more poetic "fall" gained the upper hand. Back in Britain, however, "autumn" won out. The continued acceptance of "autumn" in the United States may reflect the influence, or at least the proximity, of English culture and literature.
I have had a few outside meetings this past year for social distancing purposes, an opportunity to walk and talk in the same vein of outdoor dining and church services. While chatting with a potential college student intern for next spring, I made an amazing discovery just a few yards off a paved lane that aligns Area LL. I spotted a several nearby flaglets (placed for Veterans Day) that had been toppled by strong winds earlier in the week. These gusts were equally troublesome in hurrying the magically colored foliage to ground. As I walked back out to the lane and rejoined my guest, my eye was caught by a gravesite and name I had never noticed before.
Talk about irony, as not only had I been focused intently on leaves for the last few weeks, they have made me smile in this most depressing of years. I shared the find with my meeting companion and promptly took a few pictures on my smartphone. Once back at my desk and done with said meeting, I went in search of Leafy F. Smiley.
I first checked our cemetery database and found that she was appropriately born in spring time, like many others sharing her name. Here’s the computer-generated entry on Leafy F. Smiley:
Like “a candle in the wind” or, in our case, an autumn leaf on a tree in the same circumstance, Leafy Frances Smiley’s time here on Earth was unfortunately cut short. She grew up with two older brothers Lester Smiley (1904-1986 buried in Indian Gap Cemetery in Annville, Pennsylvania) and Golden C. (1908-1980 died in Bowie, MD). Leafy attended local schools and was the daughter of a noted mason from a long line of men specializing in the trade of bricklaying.
As a matter of fact, Leafy’s father, John William Smiley worked in this profession for over forty years as did three of his brothers. A native of Spring Creek, Virginia, he was a son of a brickmason and was descended from an early pioneer, George Smiley, a bricklayer who came to New York City about 1700 from northern England. Leafy’s mother was the former Alberta Mae Sherfey of Otterbine District, Rockingham County, Virginia. She gave birth to four children before Leafy, however two died in infancy (Mervin in 1905 and John William Jr. in 1907 and both are buried in Otterbine, VA).
I would later find that our subject was quite popular and possessed many friends. Leafy attended Frederick High and graduated in 1931. I saw brief newspaper mentions of attendance at area school functions and social events but not much more. I also stumbled over two family trials that luckily didn't end in tragedy for the Smiley family although terrible unto themselves and for others.
Leafy survived the car crash just a few months after graduation. However, she would die four years later, in the heart of summer. Miss Smiley passed on July 23rd, 1935, apparently after a long illness according to her obituary. She would be buried in Area AA/Lot 11 two days later.
In locating Leafy's interment card in our cemetery files, I found that she died of pulmonary tuberculosis. Her father would join his daughter in the family plot just four years later upon his death from a pulmonary hemorrhage at age 67 in 1939. Mrs. Alberta Smiley would die in 1954.
Leafy F. Smiley’s grave is shaded by a tree, but it’s no ordinary one. It's a Bradford Pear, and one here in the cemetery that appears to keep its leaves longer than any others around it. With a bit of quick research, I found that this variety of tree regularly has short lifespans and the color often develops very late in autumn resulting in leaves being killed by a hard frost before full color can develop. To me this seems fitting as Miss Leafy Smiley died before having time show her true colors. I wonder if friends and loved ones made the same parallel between your name, vivid life and premature death throughout the autumn of 1935? Rest in peace Miss Smiley, like those leaves as they find their landing places.
It’s been over 32 years since I took Psychology 101 in college, but the lessons learned then still hold true today. Working for a cemetery or funeral home, it’s more than important to be familiar with the famed Kübler-Ross model, also known as the five stages of grief. This theory postulates that those experiencing grief go through a series of five emotions: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
The model was introduced by Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying, and was inspired by research work done with terminally ill patients. Kübler-Ross originally developed stages to describe the process patients (with terminal illness) go through as they come to terms with their own deaths; it was later applied to grieving friends and family as well, who seemed to undergo a similar process. The stages, popularly known by the acronym DABDA, include:
Denial – The first reaction is denial. In this stage, individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.
Anger – When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, they become frustrated, especially at proximate individuals.
Bargaining – The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise.
Depression – During the fourth stage, the individual despairs at the recognition of their mortality. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.
Acceptance – In this last stage, individuals embrace mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event. People dying may precede the survivors in this state, which typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable condition of emotions.
Well, I’ve learned that aspects of this model can be applied to less serious losses than the lives of loved ones, relatives, friends, pets, acquaintances and even celebrity heroes. What about relationship break-ups? Other disappointments can cut deep as well, be them sports playoff defeats of your favorite team, concert ticket sell-outs, and the closing of a beloved restaurant. Timely, as I write this, what about Covid-19 event cancellations or candidate election losses?
Of course none of these situations rival or come close to the loss of a human life, or even that of a pet for that matter--I'm just being facetious. However, they are disappointments that all of us encounter and have to fight through in our own way. Currently, I can add another example of a life experience to apply the grief stage model, and it's one that I've been dealing with for over a week. The case at hand—the pivotal loss of a “one of a kind" eBay auction that would have aided my dream of creating a museum for Mount Olivet Cemetery. The museum is still on the table, but I missed out on a key artifact that would aid us in telling the story of the cemetery's creation and rich heritage, but more importantly, highlighting many of the fascinating people that “rest in peace” here. The auction in question ended on November 7th, but I feel that I am still fighting through the Depression stage (Step 4). Now for the backstory.
On November 1st, I stumbled upon a very unique item on the online auction website eBay. The site has been very good to me over the last 23 years since I made my first bid. Since that time I have won hundreds of auctions and added to my repository of Frederick History memorabilia and artifacts. Over the last four years, since I have been at Mount Olivet and writing this blog, I have bid on items relating to past stories.
I’ve scored some letters from Francis Scott Key, postcards of the Barbara Fritchie burial ceremony here in 1913, an advertisement for Wizard Soap made by the Hogg brothers buried in Area H, a calling card signed by famed stage actor Robert Downing, an autograph scrapbook belonging to Maryland’s prettiest girl Clara MacAbee and the list goes on. However, the recent item in question was an early daguerreotype of a young man named William A. Ebert. I immediately checked our cemetery database and found William Augustus Ebert (1820-1851) buried on Area H, not far from our recently-downed Confederate monument and Confederate Row. This was definitely the same individual, and I also learned from the description on eBay that he was a “whitesmith.” I will attempt to explain that term in a minute.
For those not familiar with early photography methods, daguerreotypes always came in protective cases, often made of leather and lined with silk or velvet. The photos, themselves, were made on highly polished silver plates. Depending on the angle at which you view them, they can look like a negative, a positive or a mirror. If exposed to the air, the silver plate will tarnish.
Not only was this a rarity, finding a photo of a Frederick resident taken before 1851, but more so a major discovery for me as cemetery historian, because the subject at hand was the victim of a terrible accident and subsequently buried here in Mount Olivet.
The auction’s seller was in nearby Westminster and this rare 19th century sixth plate daguerreotype, the most popular of its kind, measuring 3 and a 1/4" X 2 and 3/4", came in its original pocket display case and included a few old newspaper clippings of Mr. Ebert’s death, and an additional bonus— a small lock of hair. I immediately decided to bid and crossed my fingers in hopes to win this auction for the cemetery, and reunite the daguerreotype with the actual decedent so to speak.
So before I tell you of William’s tragic fate, I want to explain the term “whitesmith,” as I was unfamiliar with this profession, or at least the name. I was tipped off in the obituary that our subject was a craftsman who worked with guns and that “whitesmith” was used in conjunction with “gunsmith.”
This was still a bit confusing and a simple Google search brought me to a glossary of terms on a website for Classic American Gunsmith LLC (classicamericangunsmith.com) located in Charlottesville, VA. In addition to obvious gunsmith services, the site has an extensive archive of blogs and history related to the making and repair of firearms. The fore-mentioned glossary of terms found on the site gave me the following knowledge:
IN THE WHITE
Being in the white means that a metal part has no coating on it. It has not been anodized, blued, parkerized, Cerakoted, etc. As such it is vulnerable to environmental conditions and prone to oxidation (rust). As an example, if a blued gun barrel has a dovetail machined into it, the exposed silver colored area is said to be in the white.
I believe that this phrasing comes from gunsmiths (and the blacksmiths who came before them) association with whitesmiths. A whitesmith is either a craftsman who makes, repairs, or modifies things made from pewter or tin, or a craftsman associated with finishing or polishing iron before it was browned, blued, etc. Thus, metal just before it is ready to finish (browning, bluing, etc.) is said to be in the white.
I find the relationship between the “exposed silver” of a gun part rusting to the potential for tarnishing of the silver plate of a daguerreotype if exposed to air. Maybe our subject (and his family) had a hand in making or finishing daguerreotypes in addition to guns? Maybe these daguerreotypes were the work of William and the Eberts?
Whatever the case, William A. Ebert’s profession would sadly cost him his life. I will include the auction picture of the clippings that give provenance to the item, but I found a like article about the tragedy in a Baltimore newspaper and also within the diary of Frederick resident, Jacob Engelbrecht.
“Died this morning (Tuesday, September 23, 1851) about 6 o’clock Mr. William Augustus Ebert, son (eldest) of Mr. Benjamin Ebert. His death was occasioned by his accidentally shooting himself with a pistol, while drawing the load it being secured in the vice, (gunsmith). It happened on Thursday last 18th instant—it occurred near our dwelling opposite Doctor Ritchie’s shop. He survived the accident 5 days. Buried on the Lutheran graveyard by the “Sons of Temperance” & the “Junior” Fire Company in uniform, aged 21 years, lacking days.”
Tuesday, September 23, 1851 8 o’clock A
Well, our Mount Olivet database had a bit of the story and showed that William Augustus was born on October 7th, 1830 and was the son of Benjamin Ebert (1802-1868) as Engelbrecht stated and wife Caroline Maria (Birely) Ebert (1810-1875). He was 14 days from his 21st birthday, not that the number is all that important as he apparently did not drink, being a member of the local chapter of the “Sons of Temperance.” (Of course that’s a joke, as I know that official drinking ages were arbitrary in those days.)
With the help of some primary sources, I was lucky to find a little more info regarding the background of the Ebert family, including some connections to the fore-mentioned Frederick Civil War heroine Barbara Fritchie and the local legend’s birthplace of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
William Augustus’ maternal grandmother was Maria Rebecca (Fritchie) Ebert, sister of John Caspar Fritchie—husband of Barbara (Hauer) Fritchie. William’s paternal grandfather (John Ebert) was a skindresser and glovemaker, which was the family trade of the famed Fritchies. Benjamin Ebert appears to have been engaged in his father’s business but diarist and neighbor Jacob Engelbrecht mentioned in his diary that Benjamin and a friend/business partner, named John Cook, went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania on May 25th, 1829.
Jacob’s thought was that this move was in relation to Ebert taking his knowledge and skill of skin dressing and glovemaking there. However, another source would reveal that Benjamin really removed to Lancaster in order to learn the trade of gunsmithing.
Benjamin’s father and brothers, John M. and Valerius (a future mayor of Frederick), were practicing the skindressing trade next door and to the immediate west of Mr. Engelbrecht. The Fritchies were involved in the same. The Eberts and Engelbrechts operated their businesses just east of Carroll Creek on the north side of Patrick street and directly across from the modern-day Barbara Fritchie House/Air B&B.
A second mention (in Engelbrecht’s diary) from late December of that year talked of a double wedding featuring both Benjamin and Caroline Birely, and Ebert’s friend/associate John Cook and his bride. This occurred back in Frederick on Christmas Eve (1829) and the ceremony was officiated by Rev. David Schaefer of the Lutheran Church and War of 1812 local hero. The couples were said to have headed back to Lancaster afterwards. Interestingly, our subject, William Augustus was born exactly nine months and 14 days later.
I asked one of my research assistants, Marilyn Veek, to search for info on the Ebert business and the location of the gun repair/whitesmith shop. After a few hours of digging, she said that an 1843 directory of Lancaster, as quoted in the 1922 Historical Papers and Addresses of the Lancaster County Historical Society, shows Benjamin Ebert, tailor, on the n. side of the 3rd square on King Street, and Benjamin Ebert, gentleman, on the s. side of that square. Were these different men or one in the same? I’m guessing the latter and a separation between business workshop and home residence.
According to the 1850 census, five children were born to the Eberts while residing in Pennsylvania, at least sometime between 1833-1846:. These included: John, Samuel Birely, Caroline, Emma and Augustus. Another child, Rebecca Maria was born in Frederick in 1850.
Marilyn shared with me the fact that Benjamin had bought what was 67 W. Patrick (now 131-133 W. Patrick on the north side at the bend) back in 1850. This is part of West Patrick Street Square and sits across the street from the County Courthouse Parking Deck. I strongly think this was the scene of William’s unfortunate shooting accident in September, 1851.
Even though the Ebert business is not shown on the right, this daguerreotype by Jacob Byerly shows the streetscene of W. Patrick just past "the Bend" after the disastrous Flood of 1868. Mayor Valerius Ebert called for the removal of the old Barbara Fritchie House and that of his father's skin dressing business so that the creek could be widened, thus helping to eliminate future flood catastrophes for Frederick
Another interesting online source provided additional provenance and this was the website of the Kentucky Rifle Foundation. The website told me that:
“Benjamin and his son John were general gunsmiths prior to the Civil War and were located on the south side of Patrick Street west of Bentz Street in Frederick. By the 1880s they were advertising as Benjamin Ebert & Son at 67 West Patrick Street. In 1895 they were advertising hardware and carriages.”
The Portrait and Biographical Record of the Sixth Congressional District (Chapman Publishing, 1898) which features a bio of William Augustus Ebert’s younger brother, Augustus, discusses father Benjamin going to Lancaster and learning gunsmithing there. It says that Benjamin's shop, the one in question, was just across the street from Augustus' "present place of business" in Frederick, likely a property later known as "the repository", which Benjamin had bought in 1864 as the result of an equity case involving the will of John Casper Fritchie. An abstract says that this property had a gunsmith shop on it.
Benjamin Ebert died in 1868. In 1883, his sons Samuel B., John and Augustus (who had been trading under the name B. Ebert & Sons) dissolved the partnership. Samuel sold all of his interest in the property, stock in trade, money, property and assets to John and Augustus. Ebert & Sons, hardware merchants and carriage builders, went bankrupt in 1907. The bankruptcy and end of the family business occurred just a few months after a devastating fire swept their location on West Patrick Street (at the Bend), said to have been one of the worst in Frederick's history.
So let’s get back to William Augustus Ebert. He was originally buried at the Lutheran Church graveyard on E. Church Street as Mount Olivet was not in existence until 1854, three years after his death.
Our records show he was moved here on July 10th, 1856. He would be joined on the family plot (Area G/Lot 202) by his father in 1868, and his mother seven years later.
Other family members in this lot include William Augustus’ brother Samuel B. (d. 1880), Sisters Emma C. Ebert (d. 1904) and Rebecca Maria Ebert (d. 1914). Sister Caroline (Ebert) Winebrenner is in the lot immediately to the right, and brothers John M. and Augustus who are roughly 75 yards away in Area Q/Lot 139.
I painfully researched, and shared the family tree because of the fact that there were other Ebert daguerreotypes that were up for auction from that same seller a few weeks back. They all came from the same original source, some current day descendant of Benjamin Ebert. I’m thinking that these were William Augustus’ siblings.....but who is who?
One additional daguerreotype in this collection went for several hundred dollars. I initially thought this to be a brother, but now I think it could be a second image of William Augustus, as he looks similar to my elusive daguerreotype and is wearing what appears to be a military uniform. Those regular readers of this blog have been told on more than one occasion that our early Frederick fire companies doubled as militia units. Since William Augustus Ebert was a member of the Junior Fire Company, I’d bet that he is pictured here in his Junior Defenders uniform.
Well, researching and writing this week’s “Story in Stone” has been somewhat therapeutic. I will always be upset with myself over “the one that got away,” but I will soon enter the Acceptance stage of the Kübler-Ross model. I'm just so glad that I saw the auction in the first place and was able to add to our documentation of this early family of not only our town, but also our cemetery.
A few months back, I wrote a “Story in Stone” to help commemorate the 75th anniversary of “V-J Day” (victory over Japan Day). It featured the gravesites and associated stories of just a handful of our 4,000+ veterans buried within Mount Olivet. This was a great early prelude to the annual events we acknowledge here at the cemetery this late time of the year—Veterans Day and Wreaths Across America Day. Veterans Day, as always, is November 11th and originated with Armistice Day, the official surrender of the enemy during World War I on November 11th, 1918.
We take the opportunity to plant flaglets on the graves of veterans throughout the cemetery, a task which has also been performed by the local American Legion on Memorial Day. Wreaths Across America is a national program that grew out of Arlington National Cemetery and began in 1992 when the Worcester Wreath of Maine found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Today, over 2,100 cemeteries in all 50 states participate in this amazing endeavor.
Veterans Day is distinct from Memorial Day in that it celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who had died while in military service. In either case, you can never thank these people and fellow Americans enough because they are incredibly special, and most are equally humble about their service. They leave their families and put their health, safety and lives on the line for one reason—to fight for our country, and for our freedom. In a world of selfishness, these have already, or are currently putting our needs before their own. Without Veterans Day, many Americans would forget them and the sacrifices they made. Sadly, many don’t care or are too stupid to even understand that freedom isn’t free.
With the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, I wanted to put the spotlight on the several hundreds of local men and women buried in Mount Olivet who served in this conflict. Although not here in our cemetery, my grandfather was career Army and served in World War II. He saw action in France and Germany as part of the Battle of the Bulge, unfortunately getting captured near a town named Kesternich in December, 1944. He would spend months in German POW camps. However, he was fortunate enough to return to the states and tell his tale. His wife's brother (my great uncle) was not so lucky, killed as part of a tank division in eastern France and resting in peace at Lorraine National Cemetery in St. Avold, France.
This week, I commend all the Mount Olivet vets, but especially those who participated in World War II. As representative of those amazing patriots, I'd like to feature a few more of those buried beneath our World War II Memorial in Area EE. This was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1948 and also serves as the site of our Wreaths Across America kickoff ceremony each year.
We have 30 soldiers buried here, and I have chronicled 14 of them over the past four years in which I have been writing this weekly blog. Thanks to the tireless efforts of my assistant Sylvia Sears, I will share with you brief biographies on six more of these men—all having made the ultimate sacrifice. And instead of me writing biographies here, I will let old newspaper clippings and photographs tell their stories.
FRANKLIN EUGENE BAKER
Franklin E. Baker was in his mid-thirties when he lost his life in Paris, France during the summer of 1945. The former Frederick businessman resided on the east side of town and owned a taxicab business and a tobacco shop. He took up the fight, enlisting at Fort Meade on April 11th, 1944. Baker soon found himself in Europe after training in South Carolina.
The infantry soldier apparently received a wound in battle which hampered him afterwards. He joined the Visitors Bureau of the US Armed Forces. In August of 1945, PFC Baker died in a military hospital while recuperating from a previous wound. Four years later, his body would be returned to Frederick, and a solemn funeral service took place at Mount Olivet Cemetery on August 4th, 1949.
NORMAN MONROE WACHTER
From one "Baker" to another, Norman M. Wachter left his job at the G & L Bakery in Frederick for the European Theater. While serving as a private in the 135th Infantry of the 34th Division, he survived fighting in North Africa. In May, 1944, he would be killed in battle on the beach at Anzio, Italy.
Monroe Elwood Hossler
This Mountaindale native worked for Frederick Iron & Steel before joining the Army in April, 1943. He would serve in the 397th Infantry. Ten days before the launch of the Germans "Battle of the Bulge," Pvt. "Tom" Hossler would lose his life in France on December 5th, 1944.
Richard Fleming, Jr.
A last name that appears in several places within Downtown Frederick, this decedent had nothing to do with nearby locales such as Fleming Avenue, once part of a farmstead owned by the family of the same name. I soon realized that I pass his former home regularly as I drive through Baker Park. Richard Fleming, a native of Illinois, enlisted in the service before he was 18, and was accepted to various officer training programs but settled on the University of Florida. He made his way to Europe by sea in late November, 1944. Fleming was captured by the Germans on the second day of the Battle of the Bulge (Dec. 16th, 1944). He spent the remaining months of his life in a series of German POW camps, where he developed pneumonia and was released to a hospital in Germany, and then sent to England.
Sharing the Fleming name, this gentleman was no known relation and hailed from Carroll County. As a member of the 357th infantry, he saw heavy fighting in early 1945 as the Allies pushed across the Siegfried Line into Germany. He would lose his life at age 24 as a result of flying shrapnel from an enemy artillery shell. This occurred at a place called Winterspelt (Germany), near the Belgian-Germany border, not far from the famed St. Vith.
I found this passage in George von Roeder's Regimental History of the 357th, and it sheds a little light on the scene PFC Fleming found himself at the time of his death:
"On the 29th (January), the 2nd battalion crossed the Our River in the face of heavy machine gun and mortar fire and took up positions on the high ground to the west. The Regiment was now deployed in three countries: Luxembourg, Belgium, and Germany (the Our River marked the western German boundary). The remainder of the Division was attacking to the northeast and the mission of the 357th was to protect the Division’s right flank and block from that direction.
On the 6th of February, the 357th was relieved by elements of the 6th Armored Division and moved northeast into Germany to an assembly area in the vicinity of Winterspelt. This was where the Siegfried line began, as well as some more hard fighting. The Division now had the job of driving through these fortifications. The initial attack during the night of the 7th gained some ground due to surprise and the advantage of darkness, but the dawn brought a deluge of fire from all types of weapons, firing from pillboxes seemingly located everywhere. The ensuing days brought a series of actions, fierce in nature and difficult to record.
German artillery and Nebelwerfer fire was heavy and accurate, causing many casualties. The pillboxes were well constructed and expertly placed. Whole platoons of the infantrymen disappeared as a result of a German tactic of giving up a pillbox easily, then subjecting it to artillery and mortar fire, forcing the attackers inside for shelter. It was then simply a matter of covering the doorway with fire, surrounding the pill box after dark, and blowing it in. This tactic that was short lived, however, and the men soon learned that it was safer outside of the fortifications than inside. The Germans learned this to as well-placed satchel charges blew their shelters to bits."
Garland Z. Hightman
Early in the war, Garland Z. Hightman served as the Chief Clerk of the local Frederick Draft Board. He held this post until, he, himself was inducted into the military. After attending various training camps, he was sent to Europe. Not more than six months there, while serving with the Coast Artillery Corps, Hightman was seriously injured when the vehicle he was traveling in hit a roadside land mine in Holland. He would die ten days later.
Garland went to Baltimore to enlist his services in the military on July 19th, 1943.
On this Veterans Day, 2020, thanks and praise once again should go to all of these men, and the 4,000 other men and women resting in peace in Frederick's Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Halloween (a contraction of "All Hallows' evening") aka Allhalloween, is a celebration observed in many countries on October 31st, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It begins the observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.
Well then, that completely explains the iconic symbols associated with the day (Halloween), at least in terms to pop culture. Fittingly, graveyards have played an important role in the real commemoration of the dead, obviously. But this also holds true in the commercially-based, candy and costume-riddled version because one could hypothetically find many iconic Halloween-oriented objects within a burial ground, or cemetery. Take ours for example. We have a few jack-o-lanterns, and I’m sure a random bat or two, but I am pleased to report that I have not encountered a ghost, witch, warlock, vampire or werewolf in my five years of working at Mount Olivet. However, I must confess that we are not short on tombstones, coffins, skeletons and skulls. Well, we are short on one of the latter, but I will get to that later.
A friend, and former work colleague of mine, Ron Angleberger, and myself, have been conducting candlelight walking tours of Mount Olivet since 2013. The majority of these nocturnal sojourns have occurred in advance of Halloween, and for good reason. Ron certainly has more experience in the “macabre” tour game as he is the brains behind the popular Downtown Frederick Ghost Tours. I’m no slouch either, as I can certainly ”carry my water” as the historian and preservation manager of this historic garden cemetery and love conducting these tours as well. That said, we continue to both try our best to reverently “wow” visitors with the amazing history and stories of those buried here in Mount Olivet’s past. Over the years, the cavalcade of tour patrons has ranged from kids to teens, young couples to middle-agers up to seniors.
This fall, I decided to step back from conducting the general public tour, allowing Ron to take the lead. I, instead, have concentrated on developing/delivering tours to our Friends of Mount Olivet membership group, not to mention students associated with Frederick Community College’s Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR) program.
One common stopping place, on all of these sojourns, has been a particular hillside gravesite in Area F. Lot 25 to be exact. It belongs to one of the cemetery’s founding members, while the site itself, represents only one of two built-in, ornamental crypt tombs in our cemetery. His story and final “resting” place has Halloween written all over it.
The gravesite of James and Ann Whitehill is one to behold, even though it took on a more prominent air in olden days. Today, it just seems a bit more subdued in contrast to its former reputation as representing the prominent, strong-willed resident that it would hold for eternity. This has been the case for the past 15 years, dating back to some unfortunate events which occurred here in early 2005. More about that later, as I think I should start by telling you a bit about the “souls” encrypted here, but they were anything from poor!
Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I have gladly turned to an old friend of mine for expertise on our prime subject this week as she wrote a comprehensive biography on this gentleman and his family for the Fall 2002 edition of the Journal of the Historical Society of Frederick County, Maryland. His name is James Whitehill. Joyce relocated to Walton, Kentucky years ago with her family. Thanks to FaceBook, I have her secured as a friend, only a simple “Messenger” message away these days.
I fondly recall the assistance, support and expertise received in my early research and documentary endeavors from the article’s author, Joyce Cooper, a former teacher and longtime staff member of the Historical Society. In respect to James Whitehill, she performed exhaustive research in an effort to glean more about this man because of his connection to many of the items residing in the Society’s archival and artifact collection. Whitehill was a prominent businessman in town and had his hand in all kinds of endeavors, the greatest of which was furniture making, primarily from a location that is very much known today by locals and visitors alike—the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.
Joyce did an amazing job in capturing the vivid events of a difficult childhood for Mr. Whitehill caused by an abusive father. However haunted his early life seems, James seemed to keep his head on straight and would rise to become one of Frederick’s leading citizens in his adult life—a true testament to human resiliency. Sadly, he did not have much opportunity to reverse the cycle of fathering to his own son, as a lone child would die as an infant at six months of age.
James C. Whitehill by Joyce C. Cooper
James Whitehill’s ancestral roots were firmly anchored in the British Isles. While his maternal great-great-great grandparents emigrated from England, his paternal great-grandparents, James and Rachel Cresswell Whitehill, arrived in America from Renfrewshire, Scotland. They married in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where they spent the rest of their lives. Their son David Whitehill, born May 24, 1743, married Rachel Clemson in Salisbury Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The children born to David and Rachel exhibited the wanderlust typical of the period, most of them spreading into central and western Pennsylvania. Their son John, however, moved to Maryland where he married his fifteen year old first cousin, Mary Clemson, a daughter of John and Elizabeth Haines Clemson.
Following their marriage in August of 1795, John and Mary set up housekeeping on a farm near Libertytown, Maryland, owned by Mary’s father. Mr. Clemson allowed them to live rent-free for two years, and provided them with “two horses, some other valuable stock, and household and kitchen furniture.” The young couple may have had a difficult time financially, for Mr. Clemson rented the farm to them for several more years at a “moderate rent much below the real value.”
Three children were born to John and Mary Whitehill during their first five years of marriage, with three more surviving children being born by 1815. James Clemson Whitehill, their second child and first son, was born August 12th, 1798. Unfortunately, young James and his siblings must have known times of great unhappiness during their childhood years, based on evidence found in court records. A “Bill of Complaint of Mary Whitehill” addressed to “the Honorable Judges of Frederick County sitting as a court of Chancery,” dated April 20, 1815 and presented by John Clemson, Mary’s father and “next friend,” details a life of spousal abuse.
Mary’s complaint paints a graphic picture of a hard-working woman struggling with a husband who “day after day...was rioting in taverns or wasting their mutual gains in the most criminal debauchery.” Somewhat balancing the aggrieved wife’s statement was the testimony of Leonard Six, taken October 16, 1818 by the court. The abstract of his testimony says that “Whitehill, when in a state of intoxication was a high tempered man, but not apt to get out of humor unless he is brought to it. That when sober, he was as good a tempered man and sociable neighbor as he would wish to live beside.”
Good neighbor that he might have appeared to be to outsiders, John’s wife alleged that she had suffered John Whitehill’s abuse in silence for most of her nearly twenty years of marriage, hoping to “at least ward off his unkindness” by being a loving and good wife. Rather than showing her respect, if not love, he beat her severely and repeatedly. Finally, one April evening he threatened to kill her if she did not leave their home in one minute. Their oldest daughter, Rebecca, described to the court the horrible scene played out before the children:
I was present at the time of the separation of John Whitehill and Mary Whitehill. He said if she did not go he would murder her. She begged for God’s sake that he would spare her life. That she wanted to live with her children. The more she begged, the more he swore. He said he had sworn the hardest oath that a man could swear. That she would go and would give her but one minute to clear herself or he would murder her. These threats were made in the house. Mary Whitehill was suddenly driven off without any clothing more than those she was wearing. A horse was brought for her to ride away on by order of John Whitehill who helped her on. ‘Twas near sunset. She went alone except having her infant child with her.
Certain court records indicate that Mary returned to her father’s home.
On March 9, 1826, over ten years after Mary’s initial bill of complaint, the court annulled John Whitehill’s parental control and gave Mary custody of her minor children. Hopefully, the court also ruled in Mary’s favor on her request that John Whitehill make “adequate and valuable provisions” for her financially. Her case was pressing, for her husband had “lately given out that he will speedily leave this state and go into some one of the Western states to reside,” a move that would endanger Mary’s claim and make it “difficult for the complainant to recover the same.”
John Whitehill died in 1829, but Mary lived until March of 1862. At the time of the 1850 Federal Census, she lived in her own home near Libertytown a few doors from the homes of her brother John Clemson and her nephew Dennis Clemson.
By the time Mary won her custody case, her two older daughters had married, and her son James had embarked on his career as a furniture maker. He announced his business in the December 14, 1822 issue of the Frederick Herald.
Respectfully informs his friends and the public generally, that he has commenced business in
Liberty-Town, and is now prepared to execute any kind of work in his line, in the most fashionable
and substantial manner, and on very accommodating terms. He also intends to keep on hand a
Supply of furniture neatly finished, and by his diligence and industry hopes to be liberally patronised [sic] by the public
Seven years later he announced the opening of his business on East Patrick Street in Frederick in the April 25, 1829 issue of the Frederick’s newspaper, The Examiner.
The subscriber would notify the citizens of Frederick-town and county that he has removed to Frederick, and purposes carrying on the Cabinet and Chair Making Business extensively. His shop is in Patrick-street, nearly opposite the store of Mr. Stuart Gaither, where he can supply all kinds of furniture either of mahogany, walnut or cherry; also plain and elegant chairs. All orders promptly attended to, and the Work executed in the best manner. Two Journeymen Cabinet-makers who are sober, industrious, good workmen, will find immediate employment.
His move to Frederick was not the only major change in James Whitehill’s life that transpired in 1829. On February 9, 1829 he married nineteen-year-old Ann Campbell, daughter of Bennett and Catherine Devilbiss Campbell. In addition to the Devilbiss family, Ann’s ancestral lines included such early Frederick families as the Barricks (Bergs), Herzogs, and Stulls. Just where the newlyweds lived is unknown, but the 1850 Census lists them on East Patrick Street, probably living over his shop.
According to the 1850 census information, James owned some $10,000 in real estate. He had $3000 invested in the business, with an inventory of wood valued at $1200, hardware valued at $500, and finished furniture worth $500. The manufactory, employing seven men whose salaries totaled $175 monthly, relied on hand power. His household included James himself, his wife Ann, John Flanagan (age 17) and Margaret Hanes (age 11). John Flanagan may have been an employee, and Margaret Hanes was likely a relative of Ann Whitehill. No children are listed, for the only known child of the Whitehills, a son named James Campbell Whitehill, would not be born until 1852 and lived only six months.
James Whitehill and his employees conducted several branches of business at the East Patrick Street location for nearly four decades. Foremost was the manufacture and sale of furniture and an associated activity—coffin making. In addition to coffins, Whitehill offered for sale the “Fisk Metallic Burial Case” with a rosewood finish in his January 9, 1856 advertisement in the Frederick Examiner.
Whitehill’s third branch of business was selling lumber and other building materials. The Examiner of January 4, 1854 contains his advertisement for shingles, lathe and lumber. In March of 1856, a Maryland Union advertisement announced to the public that he had “just received 150,000 Cypress Shingles, of very superior quality” as well as lumber, lathe, sash, blinds, doors, windows, and frames. A detailed advertisement found in the Maryland Union newspaper ran for several weeks in the spring of 1856:
Engelbrecht identified another construction project when he wrote, “Nearly the whole winter and at this time Mr. James Whitehill is putting up three small brick buildings at the depot. Remarkable mild season this. Friday January 22, 1858.” In his will, Whitehill seemed to refer to this completed project, describing it as “six brick houses known as ‘Whitehill’s Row’ near the lower depot of the B & O Railroad.”
Jacob Engelbrecht provided further information on Whitehill’s changing business activities in his Wednesday, November 7, 1866 entry: “’Lumber yard’ –John C. Hardt and Hiram M. Keefer bought from James Whitehill his lumberyard in East Patrick Street. They took possession on Monday morning last.”
This sale involved only a portion of Whitehill’s complete property. In 1870 Whitehill retired from the furniture business, which was purchased and carried on by Clarence C. Carty and his descendants for many years.
Though retired, Whitehill launched another business venture, purchasing the “brick yard, lime kiln and dwelling out Church Street below and South of the Gas House for $7000 from John A. Steiner,” according to Engelbrecht’s diary entry for April 13, 1870. He operated this business until his death.
Perhaps his involvement in the construction business stimulated his inventiveness. The United States Patent Office holds Whitehill’s application for Patent No. 26,061, dated November 8, 1859. The letter that accompanies his detailed drawings begins:
To all whom it may concern:
Be it known that I, James Whitehill, of Frederick, in the county of Frederick and State of Maryland, have invented a new and usefull (sic) improvement in Hot Air Furnaces; and I do hereby declare that the following is a full, clear, and exact description of the same, reference being had to in the accompanying drawings, forming a part of this specification…”
Whitehill’s design involved a double firebox, allowing for the use of one or both parts to heat the air in the chamber between them. Thus, the temperature of the air in the chamber could be somewhat regulated to accommodate the needs of the homeowner as the weather fluctuated.
But James Whitehill was not solely a man of business; he took an active part in community affairs—religious, civic, and political. He was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, being one of the trustees named when an act of the General Assembly of Maryland incorporated the Frederick Methodist Episcopal Church in 1840.
In 1841 the church purchased a property fronting on East Church Street and extending northward to Market Space, roughly the area now occupied by the Church Street parking deck. The congregation quickly began work on a new 45’ x 75’ building, complete with a basement and galleries. James Whitehill served on the building committee for this structure, shown in the 1854 lithograph View of Frederick, Maryland as a two-story structure fronted by a wide stairway leading to the three front doors. Unlike most of Frederick’s other church buildings, the Methodist Episcopal Church boasted no spire.
Another area of Whitehill’s sphere of community involvement was the establishment of Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Churches and cemeteries were closely related in Frederick during the first hundred years of its history, when several congregations maintained their own graveyards, often behind their buildings. By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, these cemeteries were nearly full. The community urgently needed a new burial ground. Therefore, the Judges of the Circuit Court incorporated a sizeable group of men—including James Whitehill, William J. Ross, Richard Potts and John Loats—as the Mt. Olivet Cemetery Company in October of 1852. The next year lots and driveways were laid out on the thirty-two acre cemetery property. In May of 1854 the cemetery received its first burial. Jacob Engelbrecht reported:
The first corpse buried on the New Cemetery—Mrs. Ann Crawford, who died at the house of Mr. James Whitehill on Sunday evening, May 28, 1854 was buried on “Mount Olivet Cemetery.” This was the first burial on the cemetery since they dedicated it—there had been several bones removed the week or two before. Old Mr. Baltzell and wife (father and mother of Doctor Baltzell & several others. Reverend Alexander E. Gibson officiating Minister (of Methodist Episcopal Church). Tuesday May 30, 1854. 7 o’clock A.M.
Yet another of Whitehill’s avocations made its way into Engelbrecht’s detailed diary entries. The diarist often recorded details of political affairs at all levels of government. As early as the 1830s, James Whitehill appears as a frequent candidate and sometimes winner in Frederick’s elections for Board of Alderman and Common Council. Perhaps politics ran in the Whitehill blood, for several of his Pennsylvania relatives were politicians; at least three served terms in Congress during the first quarter of the nineteenth century.
Jacob Engelbrecht chronicled Whitehill’s political career, starting with his unsuccessful run for a seat on Frederick’s Common Council in 1835. He met with success in the 1836 election, and was chosen to fill the seat of a deceased Council member in 1850. In each of the next five years, Whitehill was re-elected to the Council. In the 1862 election for Aldermen, he—and all the other Union Party candidates—won easily, for they ran unopposed, there being no “Rebel” party candidates.
Talk of disunion disturbed Frederick citizens, inspiring a group of them to form a Union Club on February 11, 1860. They chose James Whitehill as their president. Soon every district within the county had its Union Club. Members of these clubs raised Union flags, sang patriotic songs, and pledged their loyalty to the Union.
The war years made normal civilian life difficult, if not impossible. Frederick endured the movements of and occupations by thousands of Federal and Confederate troops, especially during September of 1862, July of 1863, and July of 1864. Following the 1862 battles of South Mountain and Antietam, Frederick played a major role in caring for sick and wounded soldiers of both armies. Research shows that nearly all public buildings, including most churches, were converted into hospital wards, and James Whitehill’s Methodist Episcopal Church was not exempted. It, with the nearby Lutheran Church and Winchester Seminary (Frederick Female Seminary, now Winchester Hall), formed General Hospital #4. Between September 17, 1862 and January 17, 1863 over 900 men were treated in this hospital complex.
In addition to seeing his church used for war purposes, Whitehill saw his primary business change from the furniture manufacture and sale to the undertaking trade, with the establishment of an embalming station in his store. A broadside advertised an embalming station operated by Dr. Richard Burr, embalming surgeon for the United States Army, with its office located at “Jas. Whitehill and Co.’s, Undertakers, E. Patrick Street.” In addition to undertaking, James Whitehill provided coffins, wooden headboards, and hospital furnishings to General Hospital #1 located in and around the Hessian Barracks on the south side of town.
Union Hospital #1 on the Barracks Grounds on South Market Street (today the site of Maryland School for the Deaf). Below is a depiction by local artist Richard Schlecht of burial at Mount Olivet Cemetery during the Civil War. Many of Mr. Whitehill's coffins made during the Civil War are in the ground here in Confederate Row.
Again, thanks to the Historical Society of Frederick County and in particular, Joyce Cooper and her incredible research, allowing me to tell you the rest of the Whitehill story and how it pertains to Mount Olivet Cemetery, and Halloween.
In 1867, the Whitehills moved from their East Patrick Street home to a large house on the west side of North Market Street at Eighth Street. The home is located at 731 N. Market Street and was originally built by Hiram Winchester, female seminary principal and namesake of Winchester Hall (Frederick County's seat of government). Winchester sold this to Whitehill for $4,550, a hefty price for the time. The house became the Frederick City police station and jail in the mid-fifties and remained so until 1982. In December, 2016, this building was opened as the Frederick Rescue Mission’s “Faith House,” a temporary shelter for homeless women and children.
James Whitehill experienced poor health in his final years. An article from February, 1874 gives us a glimpse of the condition he found himself in.
His health further declined in the ensuing months. James Clemson Whitehill died on July 13th, 1874. He was buried in a fine funerary crypt In Mount Olivet built into the southeast side of Cemetery Hill (also once referred to as Pumphouse Hill). His funeral occurred on July 15th and it can be assumed that it was well-attended.
Ann Whitehill would pass on April 8th, 1887. The cause of death was the same given as her late husband-—heart disease.
So that was that, the Whitehill family was resting in peace—but even this age-old cemetery-centric cliché could be deemed “debatable.” There is a strong suspicion that the crypt was a victim of “grave-robbing” in the late 1890s or early 1900s. Although we have no official records of this occurring in Mount Olivet, these criminals were stealth-like in their attempt to steal jewelry off corpses in cemeteries around the country and world. Crypts (like the Whitehills) were appealing because there was no digging to be done, and you didn’t have to go “subterranean” for the heist.
While I’m on the unpleasant subject, another type of graveyard crime in “days of old” was “body snatching.” This was an even more despicable situation as thugs actually took bodies from their intended grave lots. Why, you may ask? Well, for educational purposes of course. Early medical schools were in desperate need of cadavers. They paid quite well, and didn’t ask questions.
I can practically guarantee that we never had a case of “body snatching” in Mount Olivet’s history, but I can’t give the same surety for the other early burying grounds in downtown Frederick or surrounding countryside. I guess we will never know. (NOTE: add here devilish laugh sound effect followed with “ ba ha ha”). Grave robbery on the other hand could have occurred in earlier days, and actually would in 2005. And yes, our friends the Whitehills and their crypt in Area F were the victims of such a dastardly thing, perhaps more than once.
Our superintendent of 53 years, J. Ronald Pearcey, says that he recalls the iron door on the Whitehill crypt never seemed 100% secure since the time of his own arrival on staff back in the 1960s. The top hinge had been jarred from its setting in marble, and the upper part of the door near this junction seemed to have been somewhat bent, as if having been pried open at some time by use of a crow bar or like instrument. Ron said that he tried to fix the hinge back in 1997.
The opportunity came about as Ron was performing intensive research in updating cemetery records. Apparently, he had no record of Mrs. Whitehill’s actual burial here in our cemetery record books. He decided to visit the crypt and take a glimpse inside to survey the contents. In our possession at that time was a “skeleton key” (pardon the pun) that opened the Whitehill crypt door lock.
Ron made multiple discoveries that particular day as he found the lead coffin of infant James Campbell at the foot of the crypt, just behind the entry door. In front of him, he saw two metal coffins on the concrete base floor, placed longways, from left to right, in front of him. He assumed that Mr. Whitehill, who died first, was placed in the back/rear and that the matching coffin in front was that of Mrs. Whitehill. The couple possessed metallic Fisk-brand coffins, which Whitehill had advertised in the newspaper back when he owned his funerary business. These were unique caskets, made of metal and featuring a glass “porthole” in which one could view the decedent’s face.
Fisk metallic burial cases were patented in 1848 by Almond Dunbar Fisk and manufactured in Providence, Rhode Island. The cast iron coffins or burial cases were popular in the mid–1800s among wealthier families. While pine coffins in the 1850s would have cost around $2, a Fisk coffin could command a price upwards of $100. Nonetheless, the metallic coffins were highly desirable by more affluent individuals and families for their potential to deter grave robbers.
Ron commented that the coffins were in a stage of deterioration, rusting and the lids somewhat collapsed. He said that his brief observation showed that the bones of these bodies had been somewhat disturbed, not truly matching up to how they should be if left alone.
A fourth coffin was also in this crypt, off to the right, and placed lengthwise across the foot of the Whitehill coffins. It was a wooden coffin in a far worse deteriorating condition. Research in our records showed this to be the body of Elizabeth (nee Schade or Schaed) Tice, a former tenant of Mr. Whitehill who died on October 25th, 1863. Mrs. Tice was born on May 27th, 1780, and was the wife of George Tice, a tailor, who had died in December, 1831. Mrs. Tice’s husband, son Henry (d. 1839) and a four-year-old grandson are buried in the old German Reformed graveyard, currently under the various war monuments of today’s Frederick Memorial Park.
A check of 1850 and 1860 census records shows Elizabeth Tice as a next-door neighbor to the Whitehills when they lived on East Patrick Street and ran their furniture business. This finding was an extra bonus for Ron in his record research. Upon completion, he and staff members did what they could to further secure the door when they closed the crypt back up. Obviously, this would not be enough, however.
Ron told me that, at the time, he sensed there had been a prior disturbance of some kind as the caskets didn’t seem to be neat and orderly as he thought they ought to be. This led staff to believe that the crypt had fallen prey to an earlier break-in, but it had not been thoroughly ransacked, rather carefully combed through.
I have searched early newspapers and cemetery records, but came up empty in my search for documentation of any early events (19th or 20th century) relating to grave intrusion here at Mount Olivet involving the Whitehill crypt. I could see a situation of this nature downplayed and not reported to authorities in an effort to keep the peace with relatives and lot-holders. As we learn with incidents of vandalism in cemeteries, there is a strong feeling of violation felt by not only staff but all who have a loved one in a particular burying ground, even if just one gravesite has been tampered with or defaced.
Early Monday morning of January 31st, 2005, Ellie Summers and Liz Claggett, regular walkers in our cemetery, made a horrible discovery. They found bones strewn about on the small knoll in front of the Whitehill crypt. It had snowed during the overnight, and the ladies also saw the door to the crypt was wide open. They immediately made their way back to the front of the cemetery and notified Superintendent Pearcey. Pearcey immediately went to the site with another staff member, our current cemetery foreman, Tyrone Hurley, and saw what had been reported to them—the crypt door had been fully pried open, and the display of bones had indeed come from the Whitehill crypt. Ron then notified the authorities who came out to make a report and investigate.
The group saw nearby car tracks and footprints in the snow outside the cemetery’s only other crypt belonging to the Roelkey family. It appeared that someone had been pulling on the outer gate of this funerary repository, but were frustrated in their vain attempt. The thought prevailed that the culprits hit the Whitehall crypt before the snow had started falling, and then attempted to raid the Roelkey crypt as the precipitation had started accumulating. Because of the snow forecast, Superintendent Pearcey left the gates open so that staff could enter early in an effort for snow removal.
Back at the Whitehill crypt, Tyrone was sent into the structure to assess the damage. He reported that the glass portal on each coffin appeared to have been smashed, and the boxes themselves had been raided of some of their human contents. Tyrone and Ron carefully retrieved the remains and placed them back in the broken deteriorating coffins within the crypt. Unfortunately, they realized that both skulls and a jawbone were missing from the scene. Ron and Tyrone closed the door the best they could, with hopes of doing more the following morning as they had to put their energies toward plowing the 3-4 inches of snow covering the cemetery lanes and roadways.
The next day word got out through the initial police report, and a media-circus ensued with news entities from Baltimore and Washington wanting to cover the unfortunate Whitehill crypt break-in. Superintendent Pearcey was interviewed by newspaper and television reporters throughout the day. The crypt entrance way was now blocked by the placement of an extra piece of granite found in one of our storage areas. News Channel 5 (out of Washington) did a live remote report from the cemetery that Tuesday night, and CNN had a team up here as well to do the same.
On Wednesday, February 2nd, the Frederick News-Post would run the following story:
While the Frederick City Police were conducting their investigation, a unique find occurred near downtown Frederick’s Post Office. The story would make front page news in the February 4th edition of the Frederick News-Post.
The Whitehill break-in made other newspapers across the area including Baltimore, Annapolis, Hagerstown and Cumberland. The Associated Press picked up the story and it ran in various publications throughout the country. The Washington-Post would also interview Ron about the unfortunate vandalism, now thought to be the work of juveniles.
The following Sunday, February 7th, brought a new and equally unsettling wrinkle to the story. Late in the afternoon, Superintendent’s Pearcey's son was driving through the cemetery in late afternoon and noticed a lady entering the Whitehill crypt. He immediately notified his father. Here is the newspaper story related to this aspect:
And just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water....this was the front page of the February 10th Frederick News-Post:
The following day, Ron and his grounds staff worked to fully secure the Whitehill crypt. The Police were still searching for the lone missing skull and jawbone, as the other had been returned to the crypt. Meanwhile, no remains of the Whitehill infant had been removed as erroneously reported in the papers. Fill dirt was utilized to further build up the ground around the crypt’s door, and the granite slab was turned on its side and packed-in tight against the door.
The 600-pound marble slab was remains intact since that day. The good news, there have been zero instances of vandalism here at the Whitehill crypt, a true positive. On the downside, however, the missing skull has never been located and returned to its rightful burial tomb. Ironic in a way, as many residents of Mr. Whitehill’s day described the prominent businessman and politician as progressive, stubborn and headstrong. Maybe it’s time to remove the last adjective?
I stumbled upon an interesting wife and husband last spring while researching Frederick’s early oyster saloons from the 1800s. It occurred while I was trying to find more on who I imagined to be a spunky, former female business owner at the time of the American Civil War. The woman’s name was Alice Beck, and she is buried in Mount Olivet. Sadly, she isn’t readily remembered today because she has no gravestone, yet her first husband and father-in-law (who predeceased her) do. All three reside in the same grave lot in Mount Olivet’s Area A, a stone’s throw from Francis Scott Key’s final resting place.
Miss Alice Virginia Keefer was the daughter of John Henry “Harry” Keefer and Elizabeth Titlow. Born on June 27th, 1840, she grew up here in Frederick City and was a member of the town’s German Reformed Church. Alice would be twice married, her first nuptials having taken place in late October, 1857. Her groom was a gentleman named Jefferson O. Boteler.
The Botelers were soon the operators of a restaurant-saloon located at 12 N. Court Street, the stretch that goes between W. Patrick and W. Church Streets. At the time, this thoroughfare was known as Public Street because of its proximity to the county courthouse. The Boteler’ saloon location was sandwiched between the largest hotels in the city (the City Hotel and the Dill House, later to be renamed the Carlin Hotel). Actually the Boteler’s tavern was bounded by the livery stables connected to each of the aforementioned hospitality venues. Today, the Pythian Castle building sits on the old site of the old watering hole.
Although I wasn’t familiar with Jefferson O. Boteler, I soon learned that his father was someone I did know through earlier research going back nearly seven years. This gent’s name was Edward Sims Boteler, one of 110 War of 1812 veterans interred here at Mount Olivet. His story was a bit different from the norm as he served in a Dragoon Troop in Ohio. He was captured at the Battle of Detroit and spent time as a captive in Canada.
I specifically singled out Private Boteler’s grave (Area A/Lot 126) for a newspaper photo and article back in 2014. I was working for the Tourism Council of Frederick County then, and had partnered with the cemetery in a grant project in which we received money from the state’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Anniversary Commission to place marble and bronze markers on the graves of all our 1812 vets.
A special ceremony was held in September 2014 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Fort McHenry and writing of “the Star-Spangled Banner.” We had an evening ceremony adjacent the FSK monument with the purpose of unveiling these markers. Participants were led on a candlelight history tour of 1812 veteran graves.
As the master of ceremonies, I went one step further in recognizing Edward Sims Boteler and read his bio in which I shared with the audience a few scant particulars about Boteler’s military service. I also reveled in presenting a poignant inscription found on his gravestone. It reads as follows:
“Each soldier’s name
Shall shine untarnished on
the roll of fame.
And stand the example of each
And add new luster to the historic age."
Edward Sims Boteler was born on March 24th, 1783 in the vicinity of New Town, later known as Trappe, and today recognized by the name of Jefferson, Maryland. Edward’s parents were Edward Lingan Boteler and Elizabeth (Delashmutt) Boteler. Both father and son fought for independence from Britain. Edward’s father (Edward Lingan Boteler) was recognized by the Carrollton Manor DAR Chapter as a Revolutionary Patriot with a DAR plaque.
In 1812, Edward’s apparent first wife was a Sarah Elizabeth Norris (b. 1783). The couple had one known child, Henry E. Boteler (1812-1843). I’ve read that Edward would be married a second time to a woman whose name is only known as Elizabeth. The offspring of this union was the afore-mentioned Jefferson Orestes Boteler (b. 1832 in Pennsylvania). Interestingly, this same year of 1832 was the one in which “Jefferson” was duly incorporated and given its patriotic name after our third US president.
Edward Sims Boteler appears to have been engaged in farming and lived in the area of Jefferson, and Petersville to the southwest. He died on November 25th, 1858 at the age of 75.
Around this same time, Jefferson was operating the saloon on Court Street with business partner, John McCafferty. One year later an advertisement would appear in the local paper announcing a dissolution of this business, as McCafferty left to take a job running the restaurant associated with the City Hotel, Frederick’s leading lodging place of the time. This was likely when Mr. Boteler had his new bride serve as his business partner, however she could have assisted with the saloon prior.
Apparently, Jefferson had been going through life with health problems. In January of 1862, he would experience quite a further setback to his medical maladies.
Jefferson O. Boteler’s health continued to decline as the year went on. He would die on June 22nd, 1862 and was buried in Mount Olivet the following day, next to his father.
Meanwhile the American Civil War was in full effect. Union soldiers had been plentiful in town for over a year. That number would grow exponentially over the next two. In her husband’s absence, Alice Boteler took over sole operation of the oyster saloon, while also raising a son, Edward, two-and-a-half years old at the time. I can just imagine the often bawdy scenes in the saloon establishment now frequented by imbibing Union soldiers from out of town.
The following September (after Jefferson’s death) the town would receive a week-long visit from the Confederate Army under Gen. Robert E. Lee. They wouldn’t stay long, but certainly left their mark on town before heading westward where the engagements of South Mountain and Antietam would take place on September 14th and 17th respectively. Again, I can’t help to wonder what Alice’s state of mind could have been like through those troubling times, not to mention losing her husband, raising a child and running a business.
Well, the above story just goes to show that you never know what can happen in life. It also echoes the old sentiment: ”What happens in rowdy oyster saloons, should stay in rowdy oyster saloons.”
I found an advertisement in the local paper announcing a private sale of Mrs. Alice V. Beck’s oyster saloon in February 1867. For one reason or another, it doesn’t appear that she sold at that time, or perhaps she did sell, but kept a lease agreement with a new owner in an effort to continue running her popular establishment. The Botelers had rented the building up until Jefferson's death, at which time Alice purchased the property.
The 1870 US census shows the Beck family living above the restaurant as was quite common in that day. I found out that Mrs. Alice V. Beck had $4,000 of real estate in her name in the form of her restaurant building. I also found that husband James Beck was listed as a restaurant keeper, but Alice was simply keeping house. Alice's son, Edward was now ten-years-old and the census mentions that he was attending school at the time.
Advertisements in Frederick’s Maryland Union in the fall of 1871 announced that a gentleman named J. William Brubaker was now the new owner of the former saloon operated by Alice V. (Keefer) Boteler Beck. Brubaker would eventually sell fourteen years later to Lewis A. Hager in 1885.
During that run by Mr. Brubaker, Alice busied herself with legitimate matters of home, first and foremost relating to the fact that she had given birth to three additional children between 1871-1874: Nellie Virginia (b. 1872), Mollie Adele (b. 1873), and Willie Justus (b. 1874).
Alice died of pneumonia at her home residence on W. Patrick Street on April 8, 1876. Only 36 years of the age, she would be buried alongside her first husband, Jefferson O. Boteler, and father-in-law, 1812 veteran Edward Simms Boteler. As I began the article saying, her gravesite has no monument or marker whatsoever.
I found that there are five others in this plot who have suffered the same fate and are blood relatives of Alice from the Keefer family. They include:
*an infant child of Alice and Jefferson 1859
*Elizabeth Titlow Keefer 1888 (Alice’s mother)
*Missouri M. (Keefer) Meese 1860 (Alice’s sister)
*Hiram Bartgis Keefer 1878 (4 year-old nephew of Alice/son of L. H. Keefer)
*unnamed Keefer nephew 1869 (infant son of brother Lewis Henry Keefer)
As was common in those days, the children were unfortunately split up. I learned there whereabouts from the the 1880 census. Here, I found husband James M. Beck living in his native Woodsboro with his sister and working as a painter. He had daughter Nellie living with him. Mollie was sent to live with her Uncle Charles Beck in Hagerstown and Willie was adopted by a paternal aunt living in Woodsboro. The latter would move to Brooklyn, NY as an adult and worked as a telegraph operator. As for Alice's oldest son, Edward O. Boteler, he went to live with his Meese cousins in Wetmore, McKean County, Pennsylvania. He worked for F. W. Meese who operated a hotel there and was married in the 1880 census at the age of 21.
James M. Beck died in 1905 and is buried in Woodsboro's Mount Hope Cemetery.
As I walk through the cemetery on a crisp, autumn day, I’m suddenly reminded of an idiom found often in British literature—“From the Cradle to the Grave.” It seems so fitting for a stroll through this hallowed place, as I look from gravestone to gravestone and contemplate the lives of the local tenants. Defined, the idiom beckons “From birth to death; the entire period of one’s life; throughout one’s life.” Simply put, this is what the hyphen stands represents on each and every monument, strategically sandwiched between birth and death dates of the decedent.
The “Cradle to Grave” expression is usually used as an adjective, and has been around since the year 1709 when it appeared in author Richard Steele’s British literary and society journal entitled The Tatler. Steele used the idiom as follows:
“In a word, to speak the characteristical difference between a modest man and a modest fellow; a modest man is in doubt in all his actions; a modest fellow never has a doubt from his cradle to his grave.”
I thought this expression ("Cradle to Grave") would serve as a nice title for this week’s edition of “Stories in Stone” in which we could explore another unique style of cemetery markers referred to as “cradle graves.” These are also known as “bedstead monuments,” and were very popular in the 19th century, around the time of the American Civil War. A cradle or bedstead is composed of a headstone, footstone, and cradling. These elements represent the headboard, footboard, and bed rails on a bedframe. In 2016, preservation specialist Ashley Shales of Oakland Cemetery (Atlanta, Georgia) wrote that cradle grave monuments portrayed a particular style that appealed to Victorian-era sentiments for three reasons:
“First, heaven was likened to “returning home,” which was comforting to loved ones left behind because they could hope for a future where they were eternally reunited. A bed is a natural symbol of home. Second, the 19th century witnessed a phenomenon referred to by historians as the “feminization of death.” Public displays of mourning became fashionable, as did more beautiful, peaceful, and pleasant monuments and iconography. The bed is not only a symbol of the home, but of femininity and domesticity. The third — and the most frequently cited — reason for the bedstead’s popularity is that it likens death to sleep, a notion that undoubtedly eased the sorrows of many mourners.”
Bedsteads come in several forms and are made from a variety of materials, depending usually on the purchaser’s economic means, available stone, and current fashions. Headstones may be quite elaborate, often featuring iconography such as lambs or lilies, symbolizing purity and innocence. Most bedsteads are made of marble.
Headboard and Footboard
On some cradle graves, the top is designed to resemble the headboard of a bed and the bottom looks like the footboard. Plain or decorative curbing (or molding) can also be used to outline a single grave in the shape of a bed; hence these graves are also known as bed graves.
A perfect example of this survives in the final resting place for Thomas Baltzell Tyler in Area B/Lot 113. Hailing from the prominent Tyler family of Frederick City, Thomas died at age 13 after an illness of three weeks. He was the son of Samuel Tyler (1820-1856) and Lucretia Josephine Baltzell Tyler (1823-1901) and was born on August 9th, 1843. The oldest of four children, he was a grandchild of the prominent Dr. William Tyler, a physician who served as the first president of the Farmers & Mechanics Bank, a post he would hold for 55 years from 1817 until his death in 1872.
Young Thomas Tyler passed less than a week before Christmas in the year 1856. His obituary says the 19th, however his stone says December 20th.
Child's Cradle Grave
Although they can be found throughout the country, cradle graves were more popular in the South and Midwest regions. William Raymond Brown died of pneumonia at the age of one year and three months. He was born at the advent of the American Civil War on November 26th, 1861. The beautiful example of this grave style can be found near the drive on the east side of Area E, where Lot 126 holds several members of the deceased' immediate family.
William’s father, Benjamin Franklin Brown, has the most auspicious monument of the group. He was an ardent Southern sympathizer during the war who was arrested on more than one occasion for his sentiments. Mr. Brown ran a successful warehouse business at the lower train depot on Carroll Street. He specialized in providing coal for his patrons, but bought and sold several other commodities. Although little is known about young William, his father’s life story is well-told through his obituary which appeared in the local papers in mid-1898.
Adult Cradle Grave
Despite the name, cradle graves were not just for children. Adult graves were also marked in this manner. One such is just up the hill from young William Raymond Brown within Area E. In lot 34, one lone soul exists in a space capable of holding several other family members. Ann Savilla (Delauter) Anderson is the only one here as I surmise her husband and two daughters left the Frederick area a few years after Mrs. Anderson’s untimely death at age 44.
Ann was born on April 11th, 1813. Little is known about this parishioner of the Evangelical Church. Interestingly, however, she was married in Frederick’s German Reformed congregation on February 5th, 1845 to William S. Anderson of Pennsylvania. The couple would have two little girls, Susan Elizabeth and Anna Mary and a boy, Charles, born in 1855. It is thought that the family lived on E. Church Street near the intersection with Chapel Alley.
Mr. Anderson was a stone cutter and monument maker who specialized in marble works. It appears he commenced his business in the late 1840s as is mentioned by Frederick diarist Jacob Engelbrecht with an entry dated July 24th, 1851:
“Mr. William S. Anderson, Stone Cutter of our town has eleven tomb-stones to make for the Catholic Priests of our town. They are all buried in the graveyard just at the north end of the old church.”
Sadly, William S. Anderson’s wife Ann, would die on March 16th, 1858 and he was saddled with the responsibility of carving her gravestone. For one reason or another, he felt compelled to mark her gravesite with a bedstead design. He would include an inset relief carving of a woman with an anchor, symbolizing hope. At this time, his business was located in the first block of N. Market Street.
Leaves and Grass on Cradle Grave
The empty space between the curbed sides was usually filled with “blanket plantings” – flowers, grasses, or bushes that filled up the inside of the cradle grave, giving it the full and lush appearance of a bedspread, from spring through fall. In the winter, snow would take on the appearance of a blanket drifting over the grave.
A short distance from the Key Memorial chapel towards the front of the cemetery, lies a bedstead dedicated to the memory of a well-traveled couple, neither hailing from Frederick originally—William Winder Polk and wife Almy. Mr. Polk was a native of Coventry parish, Somerset County on the eastern shore. He was the son of Wesley William Polk (1752-1814) and first wife, the widow Esther Polk Handy. The youngest of eight children, he was born on August 3rd, 1787.
Mrs. Polk was the former Almy U. Townsend of Oyster Bay, Long Island and born on January 1st, 1802. She was married in a double ceremony involving her sister Phoebe on November 27th, 1817. Both girls married Navy officers.
Shortly after marriage, the couple could be found in New Haven, Connecticut. Mr. Polk was a member of the US Marines. William and Almy had seven children, but raised five into adulthood. New Haven marked the birthplace of daughter of Mary Townsend Polk, born September 8th, 1822. She married a Victor Monroe of Kentucky, a cousin of former president, James Monroe. Their son, Francis Adair Monroe (1844-1927) became a judge in the court system of Louisiana. Mary would live a majority of her later life in Milledgeville, Georgia where she passed.
Capt. William Winder Polk’s career in the US Navy and Marine Service, as it was called back then, does not seem to fit the fact and story-line of most sailors. It seems to be a career he began while in high school. Details are slim, but it appears he worked in various positions including Hawaii, the northern central states, and New England and the long Island Sound. Eventually, Capt. Polk would be one of four Maryland officers who actually received petty cash, while working for the revenue service. An article found in a vintage newspaper announced that he was dismissed from duty in February, 1856.
I haven't been able to figure out why this couple came to Frederick, most likely after living for years in Annapolis. I am also searching for a fuller obituary in the local Frederick newspaper archives, but don't have access to microfilm of the specific year which I need.
Interestingly, both husband and wife are said to have died on the same day. William died on the morning of February 13th, 1856. Wife Almy was said to have died that very evening of the 13th.
The Polks would be buried on February 14th (Valentine's Day), 1856 in a lot located on Mount Olivet's Area H/Lot 26. To this day, they remain the only tenants in this lot which contains several more grave spaces.
Although we can replace the expression "Cradle to the Grave" with synonyms such as lifetime and existence, the bed analogy brought about by Victorian era is surely something to behold, especially as can be evidenced by these unique grave monuments.
For over a decade, the Mount Olivet Board of Directors entertained the idea of establishing a preservation fund. The plan was first pitched, and championed, by the late Colleen Remsberg, longtime Board member and immediate past president. Ms. Remsberg left us in May, 2018, but not before she saw the Mount Olivet Preservation and Enhancement Fund become an IRS accredited 501(c)(3) public charity. The mission reads as follows:
The mission of the Mount Olivet Cemetery Preservation and Enhancement Fund is to assist in the conservation of the natural beauty and historic integrity of Mount Olivet Cemetery and to increase public knowledge and appreciation of its unique, cultural, historic, and natural resources through charitable and educational programs.
Putting this in layman’s terms, we continue taking steps to preserve the history of this great “garden cemetery,” a community institution since the 1850s. In doing so, we are safeguarding the cemetery’s historic records, structures and grave monuments. We began nearly four years ago with the launch of this “Stories in Stone” weekly blog, combined with additional education opportunities through our websites (MountOlivetCemeteryInc.com and MountOlivetVets.com), along with public lectures and commemorative events.
In February 2020, we officially launched our Friends of Mount Olivet group, allowing us to expand upon special activities and product development which includes cemetery walking tours, visitor assistance with genealogy and family history research, special events and anniversaries, educational partnerships with local schools, and interpretive historic wayside displays and unique commemorative plantings. Best of all, we now have volunteers and patrons to help in documenting, cleaning and helping to raise financial support to restore, repair and preserve broken and illegible gravestones/monuments in the cemetery’s historic section.
Evidence of this latter task made the front page of our local newspaper last week, and let me tell you how gratifying it was to see positive publicity associated with Mount Olivet. It’s not hard to fathom that we’d rather see monuments going up, as opposed to three months ago (in July) when we saw some coming down. In particular headlines were made with vandals destroying our 140-year-old Confederate sentinel monument made from Italian Carrera monument. It symbolically kept peaceful watch over 700+ known, and unknown, dead soldiers who sided with the South during the American Civil War.
Speaking of history, the Friends of Mount Olivet public workshop on stone restoration last week was simply fantastic! We were the very last stop for Jonathan Appell of Atlas Preservation, Inc. (Southington, Connecticut) who had been conducting a unique restoration tour involving 48 cemeteries in 48 states—performed in 48 days. Mr. Appell is one of the country’s leading experts in this field. He, boasts an impressive resume of work projects and experience that have spanned decades.
The workshop began with an hour-and-a-half walking tour of the grounds in which Jonathan was joined by friend and colleague, Moss Rudley, longtime exhibit specialist and Superintendent of the National Historic Preservation Training Center based here in Frederick. The seasoned duo explained styles, trends, and even pitfalls of grave ornamentation of the 18th and 19th centuries.
I first met Jonathan and Moss two years back in October of 2018. At that time, Mount Olivet became an outdoor classroom for a two-day session on gravestone restoration—part of the 22nd annual International Preservation Trades Workshop. We brought Jonathan back to Frederick in October, 2019 to conduct a free, public workshop on our grounds. This would also generate interest in our 2020 launch of our friends group as well.
Last year, Jonathan was given the opportunity to explain to participants various projects that he has worked on around the country over his career. This included 17th century burying grounds in his native New England, jobs with the National Park Service, and a recent collaboration with Preservation Virginia involving the mysterious Knight’s tomb in Jamestown Church, historic Jamestown settlement. This gravestone is thought to be the oldest known grave of a European settler in North America. (Note: For more info on these gentlemen, I have added a link to the Frederick News-Post story at the end of my article along with a few others).
As for our event on October 7th, 2020, the talented craftsmen chose a random grave monument of interest to conduct an introduction on cleaning gravestones. Jonathan and Moss went on to explain contributing factors to stone discoloration and staining. They followed by demonstrating to participants methods of properly cleaning these stones, using tools and materials that will bring many of these stones back to their original condition, if done correctly.
With knowledge and know-how at hand, our instructors encouraged participants to take their hand of cleaning stones for themselves. This lively actively, fitting for a cemetery in so many ways, was followed by a lunch break.
After lunch, Jonathan and Moss picked three stones in Area H to repair, and one more in neighboring Area L. Both sections flank the historic Key Chapel and their eastern halves contain several interments dating from the mid-1850s and 1860s—the time of the cemetery’s opening decades.
A beautiful day afforded attendees a relaxing atmosphere in which to experience this free portal in which to watch these experts at work. Moreso, they were also breathing new life into stones that had experienced toppling by way of old-age, weathering and ground shift over the years.
While engaged in the session first-hand, I suddenly thought beyond the tombstones themselves as I usually do. I asked myself, “Who were the recipients of these “mortuary makeovers?” And just remember, if this ever becomes a program on TLC, you heard the potential program title here first!
I decided to come full circle. I would purposely seek out anything I could about the people (beneath the scenes) who unknowingly volunteered their grave markers for our workshop. By the way, I thought I’d share the fact that although we regularly throw around the term “6 feet under,” our cemetery uses the industry standard of 4.5 feet underground for burial. Not counting ground erosion or build up, the cemetery aims for the lid to be at least 18 inches below the surface. And there’s a social distancing update for you.
Anyway, four years ago, in November, 2016, I began "cyber-preservation” by publishing weekly features that can be stored on the Mount Olivet website, while new features (like this) make their premieres on the cemetery's FaceBook page. However, none of this would be possible without a gravestone, and even more, an upright and legible gravestone. Markers, monuments, and tombstones are tributes to, and representations of, past lives. Each provides that tangible connection to the deceased. Repairing a stone is no different than penning a biography, the common thread is remembering a life once lived—a lasting footprint.
The Kunkel Children
The monument featured on the front page news story last week was within Area H/Lot 57 and was erected by a prominent politician, lawyer and businessman named Jacob Michael Kunkel. On the morning tour, Kunkel’s fine monument was called-out by our lecturers for its grand style, but it was another unique funerary offering that was targeted for the cleaning demonstration. This was a seven-foot Greek-style column which appears broken at the top. This latter issue was not done by vandalism or a tree, but rather by design as a popular style of the mid-nineteenth century. Because of its visual impact, the broken-column has remained one of the most popular symbols in cemetery iconography. It represents “a life cut short,” and that is indeed what we have with this particular gravesite containing two children: Henry and Teresa.
I want to start by giving context on the Kunkel name and family. To date, we have 22 folks with the name “Kunkel” interred within our gates. This unique surname is derived from the Middle High German word "kunkel," which means "spindle." It is thus supposed that the first bearers of this surname were spindle makers by occupation.
The forementioned Jacob M. Kunkel did more than make spindles as his “Story in Stone,” could weave quite a yarn. I have seen his name in the local papers and history books quite often, and knew he had a connection to the Catoctin Furnace, as an owner in partnership with Peregrine Fitzhugh in the 1850s.
Kunkel’s brother (John Baker Kunkel) would run the north county operation throughout the American Civil War, as it would stay in blast without interruption throughout the conflict as armies marched by going to and from the battlefield at Gettysburg in the summer of 1863.
The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 1774 – Present gives the following summary on Mr. Kunkel:
KUNKEL, Jacob Michael, a Representative from Maryland; born in Frederick, Frederick County, Md., July 13, 1822; attended the Frederick Academy for Boys and was graduated from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in 1843; studied law; was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Frederick in 1846; served in the State senate 1850-1856; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-fifth and Thirty-sixth Congresses (March 4, 1857-March 3, 1861); resumed the practice of law in his native city; delegate to the Loyalist Convention in Philadelphia in 1866; died in Frederick, Md., April 7, 1870.
You may be interested in the fact that the Kunkel family residence during Jacob M. Kunkel’s life between 1848-1870 was 112 W. Church Street—the famed Tyler-Spite House. This grand mansion would remain in family hands until 1892.
The Kunkels have two of the largest, and beautifully ornate, monuments in all of Mount Olivet. Our hosts talked at length about the craftmanship and construction of each before taking us a few short yards away to focus on the grave of two of Jacob’s children.
There are seven individuals buried within Area H’s Lot 55. They include the forementioned Jacob Michael Kunkel and wife, Anna Mary McElfresh Kunkel (1821-1879). The Kunkel’s three children are buried here, only one reaching adulthood—John Jacob Kunkel (b. 1849). This family would re-locate to New York City, the site of John’s death, in 1888. John Jacob’s wife, Mary Elizabeth McGill (Kunkel) (1852-1909) is buried beside him, as is one of the couple’s sons, John Harold Kunkel (1878-1912), who died at age 33 of Typhoid fever.
The remaining tenants are Jacob Michael Kunkel’s two other children. Henry Kunkel was born August 8th, 1851 and only lived 16 months. He died on April 30th, 1853 and was originally buried in Frederick’s All Saints’ Protestant Episcopal graveyard, once located between E. All Saints Street and Carroll Creek. The family had Henry’s body exhumed and reburied here in Mount Olivet on April 4th, 1859. This was a somber date as it marks the burial of the Kunkel’s only daughter, Teresa. Teresa was born on May 7th, 1853 but would not have the opportunity to celebrate her sixth birthday as she died April 3rd, 1859.
Of course, a fair question to ask would be, “Why wasn’t Henry buried here to begin with?” The answer: Because Mount Olivet wasn’t open for burial business until May, 1854. Rest in peace little ones.
Sarah G. Doyle
Thanks to Jonathan and Moss, this straightforward marble gravestone, white in color, and boasting bold carving, now sits back on its original base in Area H’s Lot 14. Ground shift caused the two base stones to shift, allowing water to rust out the two iron pins holding up the die, or main part of the headstone. Today, it once again stands boldly in memory of Sarah G. Doyle, not far from the grave of her husband, one of 109 veterans in Mount Olivet who served in the War of 1812.
Luckily, I was able to glean a bit about this lady who lived 76 years, 9 months and 16 days. I’ve brought up the concept and conundrum of being “a consort” in earlier stories. Sadly, we don’t know a great deal about most women of olden days outside of being “dutiful wives” and “doting mothers”—except, of course, in those rare cases when they actually killed their husbands, and I will leave it at that. And, if you were concerned, I can assure you that Sarah had nothing to do with her husband’s death in 1745.
Sarah Gordon was born March 15th, 1797 in Clogher Parish, Tyrone County, in Northern Ireland. I don’t know when she came to the United States, but she married a man named Lawrence Doyle on January 26th, 1822 here in Frederick.
Lawrence Doyle died in January, 1845 and was laid to rest in the Lutheran Cemetery between E. Church and E. 2nd streets. The couple had 23 years together, and five children came from this union: Mary Magdalene Doyle (b. 1822-1825); Elizabeth Margaret Doyle (Feb. 5th, 1825-Feb 16th, 1825); Mary Jane (Doyle) Reed (1827-1858); and Margaret (Doyle) Crum (1838-1905). A son was also born by 1830, either named Lawrence or Henry, but I had difficulty finding more information.
In 1850, Sarah was living with daughter Margaret in a home owned by local lawyer Adolphus Fearhake in Court House Square, likely Court Street. I have a strong hunch that Mrs. Doyle was working for the Fearhake family in some capacity. It’s also possible she came into contact with the Kunkels, neighbors living less than half a block away during this period. In 1870, I found Sarah living with daughter Mary Jane Reed’s family in Mount Pleasant. Mary Jane had died in 1858.
The native of Ireland passed on December 31st, 1873 and was buried in Mount Olivet on New Years Day, 1874. Lawrence would join her here after a re-interment in 1907, 33 years after Sarah’s death.
Henry F. Smith
After repairing Sarah Doyle’s grave, we only moved ten yards to our next “mortuary makeover.” It would be in Area H/Lot 25, the grave of Henry Frederick Smith (1839-1864). Talk about a life cut short, perhaps Henry should have had his grave marked by a broken column, instead he had a broken gravestone. Smith’s slim-style upright, tombstone was actually severed in two, the fracture having occurred near the base.
This was certainly a more difficult repair than the previous re-setting of the Doyle monument. Our professionals were tasked with re-attaching this piece, while making certain that the base was stabilized—something that was located below the ground surface.
The son of Eli and Theresa Smith, Henry Frederick Smith was born on July 8th, 1839 in Frederick. He was baptized in the town’s Lutheran Church and lived in the vicinity, likely on E. Church Street. Henry’s father was a saddler, and according to the 1860 census, Henry worked as a stone cutter. His mother died in 1856, at which time the plot in Mount Olivet was purchased by his father.
With hostilities growing in 1861, the winds of war were blowing. Henry joined the Union Army in late November of that year and became a member of Company I of the 1st Maryland Infantry Regiment, Potomac Home Brigade under Captain Walter Saunders. For a glimpse of what he experienced, we can look at the regimental history:
During the winter of 1861-62 it served with Gen. Banks and in the following spring marched with that commander up the Shenandoah Valley as far as Winchester, when it was assigned to the duty of guarding the line of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad. When Banks was driven out of the valley the regiment was concentrated at Harper's Ferry, where it remained until the Union troops again the valley, when it resumed the work of guarding the railroad. After Gen. Pope's defeat at the second battle of Bull Run the regiment opposed the passage of the Potomac river at the several fords and ferries near the mouth of the Monocacy, and was then concentrated at Harper’s Ferry, where it was surrendered with the garrison on Sept. 15, 1862.The men were paroled and after being exchanged the regiment was assigned to duty along the Potomac in the southern part of the state.
The surrender in question here was associated with the Battle of Maryland Heights, which happened a day after the Battle of South Mountain, and a few days prior to Antietam. Corporal Smith would not return to regular duty as he had experienced a debility supposedly stemming from a cold caught the previous winter. His illness developed into phthisis, known today as pulmonary tuberculosis. Henry would remain at the US General Hospital located in Parole, Maryland, just outside Annapolis. And yes, this is how the current vicinity gained its name.
Corporal Henry F. Smith would never see active duty again as he was honorably discharged from duty in February, 1863 due to his disability. He would die of consumption (tuberculosis) one year later on February 16th, 1864.
A scant obituary for Henry appeared in the local paper, along with a memoriam from fellow members of Henry’s fire company.
Eli Smith, Henry’s father, would die four years after his son in 1868. Since Mr. Smith was the last of his family, this likely explains why he has no grave marker over his final resting place.
Eleanor “Ella” O. Keller
The final resident renovation of the day in Mount Olivet required some special tools of the trade in the form of a tripod. This tombstone had simply fallen backwards off its base due to its base sinking downward. Thankfully there was no visible damage whatsoever. The solution involved leveling the foundation under the base. An additional challenge was presented with a large, and extremely heavy, gravestone which could not simply be lifted and put back in place by one or likely two workers. Enter a tripod to lift and hold the weight of the die, readying it for placement. In addition, an adhesive compound and lead strips was necessary to help attach the die to the base below.
The monument in this demo belonged to Miss Eleanor “Ella” O. Keller, born October 11th, 1851 in Frederick. Miss Keller was the daughter of Charles Frederick Keller and his second wife, Caroline E. Hunt. Ella spent all of her life on E. Church Street. She lived here at what was lot #63, which is the townhouse on the southeast corner of Church and Chapel Alley. She attended school at the Frederick Female Seminary (located at Winchester Hall) and graduated in June of 1868. A professional career saw Miss Keller as a teacher, and she worked at the Frederick Girls’ High School. The former school structure still stands at 115 E. Church and was the former headquarters of Frederick County Public Schools. More recently, it was the home of Artomatic, an artists’ showcase brought to Frederick by the Ausherman Family Foundation.
Ella died at age 52, after what her obituary called a brief illness. She is buried to the right of the Key Chapel in Area L/Lot 5. Her two brothers are buried in this plot, along with her mother, Caroline, who is positioned to the immediate left of Ella.
Jonathan and Moss took the liberty of re-setting and straightening Caroline's monument while here. According to our cemetery records, Ella’s father is buried in Williamsburg, Perry County, Pennsylvania.
It was a great day of information and repairs. Thanks again to Jonathan Appell and Moss Rudley. I know they only made a physical impact on just four monuments in a cemetery containing tens of thousands. However, these are not just any markers, they are above-ground reminders and extensions of the deceased themselves. As if that isn’t enough, now you know a little bit more about the individuals linked with the stones we repaired last week.
Banksy is an anonymous England-based street artist, political activist, and film director whose been active since the 1990s. He has left his graffiti art all over the world. A much-repeated quote , poignant for any discussion regarding the importance of tombstones, is attributed to this mysterious man:
“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”
In respect to restoration and preservation, we’ve got plenty more work to do at Mount Olivet Cemetery. Doing so may positively resuscitate countless victims of an unfortunate second death, one not explained by science, but by forgetting those who have already passed.
ADDITIONAL LINKS to news stories relating to Jonathan Appell and Moss Rudley:
An obelisk is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape or pyramidion at the top. Originally, they were called tekhenu by their builders, the Ancient Egyptians. Obelisks are said to have first appeared between 2650-2134 B.C. The Greeks who saw them used their own term, obeliskos, to describe them, and this word passed into Latin and ultimately English. Ancient obelisks are monolithic—that is, they are crafted out of a single stone. In contrast, most modern obelisks are made of several stones.
Obelisks can be found across the globe, many originally dating from ancient times and civilizations. Way back then, these monuments represented the living deity, the vitality and immortality of the pharaoh, and the concept of duality and balance. No matter who or what else they commemorated, they were raised and carefully positioned so that the first and last light of day would touch their peaks to honor the sun god.
In ancient times, obelisks were typically erected in pairs in front of selected temples as part of a celebration or Royal Jubilee. The sides of the obelisk were often inscribed, and the pyramidal top was sheathed in gold to radiate the light of the sun.
I’ve had the opportunity to see some of these miraculous works of stone in person. I laid eyes on my first obelisk in Rome and at neighboring Vatican. Later that same trip, I would see the fine example in France’s Place de la Concorde, a transplant from Egypt. This latter monument is decorated with hieroglyphics exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramesses II (1304-1214 B.C.). It is one of two which the Egyptian government gave to the French in the 19th century. The other one stayed in Egypt, too difficult and heavy to move to France with the technology at that time. On September 26th, 1981, President François Mitterrand gave the second obelisk back to the Egyptians.
This particular obelisk once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple. It was a gift from the Khedive of Egypt, or royal constitutional monarch, Muhammad Ali Pasha. Pasha offered the 3,300-year-old Luxor Obelisk as a diplomatic gift to France in 1829. It arrived in Paris on December 21st, 1833. Three years later in 1836, King Louis Philippe had it placed in the center of Place de la Concorde.
The obelisk, a yellow granite column, rises 75 feet high, including the base, and weighs over 250 tons. Given the technical limitations of the day, transporting it was no easy task. On the pedestal are drawn diagrams explaining the machinery that was used for its transportation. The obelisk is flanked on both sides by fountains constructed at the time of its erection on the Place de la Concorde.
The government of France added a gold-leafed pyramidal cap to the top of the obelisk in 1998, replacing the missing original, believed to have been stolen in the 6th century BC.
A real, ancient obelisk exists in New York’s Central Park, representing the oldest outdoor monument in New York City. More than 3,000 years old, “the Obelisk” (also known as “Cleopatra’s Needle”) towers 69 feet high and weighs 220 tons.
The Central Park Obelisk is one of a pair built around 1443 B.C. in Egypt’s Heliopolis, under orders from the pharaoh Thutmose III. Both monuments were moved around 10 B.C. to front Alexandria’s Caesareum—which was named for Julius Caesar and first conceived by Cleopatra, who consolidated her rule with Caesar’s help—under the reign of Caesar’s son Augustus. The nickname “Cleopatra’s Needle” didn’t take until centuries later, reportedly coined by British traveler Paul Lucas, while Mark Twain also used the term in his 1869 travel book Innocents Abroad.
I invite you to read further about how it was transported across the Atlantic in a refitted Egyptian mail ship and then carried across Manhattan by a special railway built for the purpose. Finally, a unique scaffolding and crane apparatus was used to finally put the obelisk in place within its new home in Central Park. This was a true engineering marvel which beckons to mind how did they accomplish the initial construction, let alone the move to Alexandria?
Of course, living in the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia), none of us have to travel far to see the most famous obelisk on United States soil, and dedicated to our first president. Of course, this was not the first monument dedicated to George Washington, as residents from nearby Boonsboro accomplished that honor in 1827, but their handiwork was far from an obelisk.
A side note about the Washington monument is that I learned that it would take quite a while to complete. The work began in 1848, but was built in two different phases. It wouldn’t be finished until 36 years later in 1884.
At home here in Frederick, I get the chance to see obelisks each and every day. Where you may ask? Of course, here at my place of employment, Mount Olivet Cemetery. There are several on our grounds, including our own version of “Cleopatra’s Needle.” This monument is a new one that went up last week on the gravesite of former Frederick attorney Cleopatra Campbell Anderson who passed away in March, 2018.
Born in 1935, Ms. Campbell was a former assistant state's attorney for Frederick County. She is one of the first two women to practice law in the state of Maryland, along with Mary Storm. Both women were admitted to the state bar in 1967. Campbell's first legal job was at the firm Mathias, Mathias, and Michel and her last was as an associate judge of the Maryland Orphan’s Court. To learn more, I have provided a link below to a fine story written by Cameron Dodd, which appeared at the time of her death:
Elements of Egyptian, Greek and Roman architecture became very popular forms of funerary monumentation during the Victorian era. In particular, grave decorations utilizing the obelisk motif are said to symbolize heavenly ascension or a ray of sunlight.
The most prestigious obelisk here in Mount Olivet is a tribute to transportation pioneer Gen. James C. Clarke (1824-1902), namesake for Clarke Place, a short block from our front gate and the object of an interesting “Story in Stone” blog published back on March 6th, 2019. The most famous obelisk was erected in memory to Frederick's famous Civil War heroine Barbara Fritchie. Another belongs to local baseball icon, Harry Grove, namesake for the stadium that bears his name roughly 100 yards from his gravesite.
Another obelisk, located on the west side of cemetery hill, the highest point in downtown Frederick, is that of a former local businessman who started his existence in the Glade Valley area north of present-day Walkersville. His name--Noah Edwin Cramer.
Instead of re-inventing the wheel here, I will simply share his biography as it appears in Volume II of T.J.C. William’s History of Frederick County, Maryland, published in 1910:
Noah E. Cramer, a well-known and active business man of Frederick City, dealing in real estate, is a native of Walkersville District, Frederick County, Md, where he was born August 11, 1860. He is a son of George and Catharine (Reynolds) Cramer.
Johannes Cramer, the grandfather of Noah E. Cramer, was a farmer in Walkersville District, Frederick County. His homestead is still in the possession of the family. In politics he was a Democrat and in religion a member of the Reformed Church. The Cramer family is of German origin, and has been settled in Frederick County for over 125 years.
George Cramer, the father of Noah E. Cramer, was born on the old Cramer homestead in Walkersville District, in 1819, and died there in 1890. He followed the occupation of a farmer, and was well-known and highly respected in the community in which he spent his entire life. Politically he was an adherent of the Democratic Party. He was married to Catharine Reynolds. She was born near Frederick in 1827, and died in 1895. They were the parents of eight children, seven of whom grew to maturity: George L., of Frederick; John D., a farmer; S. Clinton, retired; Harriet R., the widow of the late W. O. Hughes, of Baltimore, Md.; Charles G., a retired farmer; Noah E., of whom presently; William A., a merchant at Walkersville, Md.
Noah E. Cramer was reared on the old Cramer homestead, and as a lad followed the occupation of a farmer’s boy. He received his education in public and private schools of Frederick and Walkersville, Md. He then entered the dry-goods store of his brother, George L. Cramer, as a clerk, with whom he remained for some time. While still a young man, he located in Frederick City, and established himself in the real estate and loan business. This he has since continued to conduct, meeting with much success. He is one of the best known and most prominent business men of the city, and has the confidence of business and financial circles generally. Besides his real estate and loan business, Mr. Cramer is interested in various enterprises of the county. He was the director and stockholder in the First National Bank of Frederick for fifteen years, and for a period vice-president, and is a director and secretary of the Woodsboro Turnpike Company, and a director in the Frederick Building and Loan Association.
The home of Mr. Cramer is “Rose Hill,” the colonial home of Thomas Johnson, the first Governor of Maryland. This historic place is located one mile north of Frederick City, along the Frederick turnpike. It contains 156 acres of fine limestone land, under a good state of cultivation. The mansion is a large brick building of the old colonial style, with a two-story portico in front that is so often found in the stately colonial homes prior to the Revolution. The mansion is situated on a slight elevation about the center of the land tract, and is surrounded by a grove of beautiful trees. In this grand old home many distinguished person have been entertained, among them George Washington and other eminent patriots of the stormy period of the Revolution, in which Governor Johnson himself played an important part. A photograph of the mansion is placed on one of the pieces of silver service of the U.S. Cruiser “Maryland."
Mr. Cramer was married November 12, 1895, to Ella Kate Houck, a daughter of James Houck, president of the Franklin Savings Bank of Frederick. Mr. and Mrs. Cramer are the parents of two children, James Houck and Katharine Reynolds.
Politically, Mr. Cramer is a strong adherent of the Democratic party, and in religion is a member of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Frederick. He is a self-made man, and has attained the position he now occupies through perseverance and strict attention to business. Mr. Cramer is a member of Mountain City Lodge No. 29, Knights of Pythia, of Frederick.
I found thousands of mentions of Mr. Cramer in online newspaper archives, a direct byproduct of being a successful real estate and fire insurance agent. I'm assuming his profession also aided in helping him acquire Rose Hill Manor in 1906, but it seems that the country estate was a showplace for him, hosting special events and parties. The family lived at 117 Record Street, next to the Record Street Home and Court House Square.
In 1922, Noah Cramer was among the organizers of Frederick's first Board of Realtors and would serve on the inaugural executive board. His son James would eventually join him as a business partner as well.
Mr. Cramer worked through his sixties, but punctuated his life with fine vacations around the globe. At a time when travel abroad was still reserved for a privileged few, Cramer made trips to places such as Bermuda, Florida, Seattle, the Philippines, and Western Europe. I learned more about the European trip taken by Mr. Cramer in 1927. Cramer, noted also for his elocution skills, was asked to share details of his recent trip with the local Kiwanis Club.
Noah E. Cramer died suddenly of a heart attack in September, 1930. He would be buried in Mount Olivet’s Area G/Lot 79 on September 13th.
I don’t know when the obelisk went up on the site, but I’m guessing sometime shortly after Mr. Cramer's death. Like that of the other obelisks to be found here in Mount Olivet, the Cramer monument is among the first, and last, to catch the light of day, hopefully still as pleasing to the sun god(s) today, as was the case thousands of years ago in ancient times.
"What's in a name?" an age-old question usually credited to William Shakespeare for introducing the proverb to us through Romeo and Juliet. A person's name is said to be the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. Interestingly, one can walk for hours through a cemetery like Mount Olivet and read hundreds of different names on gravestones and monuments. Some may be familiar and recognizable, perhaps friends, acquaintances, or relatives. However, I would definitively bet that the vast majority of tombstones gazed upon would represent names and people completely foreign to you and, hence, desirous of intrigue and curiosity. Well that's the sole reason I have been doing this blog for almost four years now!
Even I have little to no idea of who these people are, what they did, how they died or what they were like. And that's why the hours of research I pour into these stories is so fulfilling, I actually come away not only learning about an individual (usually forgotten over time), but in bringing their memory back to life, I usually learn local, state, national and world history some how. These lives are reflections of the time periods in which they lived, allowing me to see the world through their lens, not manipulated by how we look back today and see/judge things.
The above mentioned statement I made about names (A person's name is said to be the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality)really rang true to me last week as I encountered two gentlemen I knew relatively nothing about. However one had a name in which I associated a greater quality of life experience, while the other I thought would be hum-drum and ordinary. In fact, both men's last names also double as adjectives—talk about descriptive irony. The first man was Francis Scott Key, Jr. "Key" when used as an adjective is defined: "of paramount or crucial importance" (ie: The quarterback made a key throw in the final touchdown drive to win the game.") The other gentleman in question is Simon Fraser Blunt. "Blunt" as an adjective is defined as "having a worn-down edge or point; not sharp" (ie: The blunt knife was virtually useless as it couldn't cut anything.") Blunt also has another meaning when it pertains to a person or remark, and means "uncompromisingly forthright."
(She was very blunt with her date, saying that there was no need for him to bother asking her out again."
Last week’s story focused on a son of Francis Scott Key, one who had the same name as his father, but certainly the opposite fortune of leaving a lasting legacy. To my surprise, Francis Scott Key, Jr. didn’t do anything of particular note outside being a loving husband and father. Newspapers had scarce mentions of him during his lifetime, and he is non-existent in any history book. FSK, Jr.’s proud estate, named “the Elms” in Howard County, is long gone, without a trace. His children really didn't stand out in their own way either. Key, Jr. died in mid-1866 and was first entombed in a graveyard in Baltimore, but would be re-interred a few short months later in Frederick’s Mount Olivet along with his parents and another gentleman (who I am very excited to introduce you too). All four individuals had previously rested within the Howard family vault in Old St. Paul’s Cemetery.
Francis Scott Key, Sr. and wife Mary Tayloe Lloyd Key were moved yet again, in 1898, to their present location (within a vault under a fine memorial more befitting the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner,”) by our cemetery's front gate. With this move, the memory and acknowledgement of Francis, Jr. sank further into obscurity as few visitors would travel to the vicinity of his grave and notice his slab of marble.
I enjoyed the research challenge nonetheless, and fed my curiosity to learn more about this gentleman and, in the process, more about the immediate family of the guy who wrote our national anthem.
I mentioned a fourth individual of the “Key entourage” to be reburied from Baltimore to Mount Olivet back in the year 1866. This was Simon Fraser Blunt, and the exact date of his burial in Mount Olivet’s Area H/lot 439 occurred without fanfare on October 1st, 1866. Mr. Blunt was Francis Scott Key’s son-in-law, having married daughter Ellen Lloyd Key in 1846. Blunt is only about five yards away from brother-in-law FSK, Jr., but a comparison of life stories is “night and day,” as they say. I was astounded with what I found out about Simon Fraser Blunt, and am prepared to show you that although short, he had an adventurous 35 years here on Earth. To be perfectly "blunt," our subject's life was uncompromisingly forthright, and the furthest thing from dull.
Simon Fraser Blunt enjoyed a distinguished career in the US Navy, one that would encompass the majority of his life. He was a member of the Wilkes Expedition which explored and surveyed the Pacific Ocean, a cartographer of San Francisco Bay and served as captain of the SS Winfield Scott when it shipwrecked off Anacapa Island in 1853. Two geographic features, Blunt Cove and Point Blunt are thought to be named for him. Yet, there are few, if any, individuals today who have actually ever heard the name of 1st Lt. Simon F. Blunt. In particular, two chapters of his life are particularly amazing and worth telling as these would bookend his Naval career front and back.
Simon Fraser Blunt was born August 1st, 1818 in Southampton County, Virginia. His father, Dr. Samuel Blunt, owned a fine plantation named Belmont, located a few miles northeast of the small crossroads town of present-day Capron. According to the 1831 slave census, Dr. Blunt’s father owned nearly 36 slaves. This fact would play out during “the dawn’s early light” on the morning of August 23rd, 1831. Belmont would take part in the bloodiest and best-known slave revolt in American history.
Nat Turner (1800-1831), an enslaved black preacher was living at the home of Southampton County craftsman Joseph Travis in the summer of 1831. He had been recently acquired by Mr. Travis, having been bought and sold by a few different slave-owners throughout his life.
Having believed he was divinely selected to lead his people out of bondage, Turner took this as a sign in the form of an eclipse of the Sun caused Turner to believe that the hour to strike was near. His plan was to capture the armory at the county seat of Jerusalem, and, having gathered many recruits, to press on to the Dismal Swamp, 30 miles to the east, where capture would be difficult.
On the night of August 21st, together with seven fellow slaves in whom he had put his trust, he launched a campaign of total annihilation, murdering Travis and his family in their sleep and then setting forth on his bloody march toward Jerusalem. In two days and nights about 60 white people were ruthlessly slain. Doomed from the start, Turner’s insurrection was handicapped by lack of discipline among his followers and by the fact that only 80 Blacks rallied to his cause.
Just before dawn on August 23rd, Turner and about 20 of his followers had covered a distance of about 15 miles and arrived at Belmont, home of our subject, Simon Fraser Blunt, then having just turned 13 years of age a few weeks prior. Forewarned of the dangers ahead, Dr. Samuel Blunt insisted that his slaves remain and defend the plantation and his family, or join the insurgents. All stayed and successfully defended the home and its occupants.
Tradition states that young Simon Blunt fired the first shot at the insurgents, either from the front porch or an upper window as there are two account variations. Belmont would serve as Nat Turner’s “Waterloo” of sorts, and the site of the next-to-last skirmish of the rebellion. Many of his followers had perished upon reaching the Blunt plantation and the remainder were captured and executed upon arrival. Turner, himself, escaped and would be the focus of a multi-month manhunt, before being captured on October 30th, 1831. He was convicted and hanged twelve days later on November 11th, 1831.
As an aside, I will share that the Nat Turner rebellion prompted the Virginia General Assembly to spend much of its December 1831 session debating the possible abolition of slavery, something state governor John Floyd had hoped to accomplish. Contrary to Floyd’s wishes, the legislature enacted more stringent slave laws and attempted to suppress abolitionist writings. Turner’s short, but violent revolt, so alarmed the South that a much stricter regimen was soon instituted against slaves and free blacks alike, leading to further hardening of attitudes between the North and South.
As Nat Turner had made a name for himself, but lost his life for it, our subject Simon F. Blunt would gain newfound fame and be set on his career path because of Turner’s ill-fated insurrection plot. The plucky teen would be rewarded for his heroism and bravery in battle and summoned to the White House to meet President Andrew Jackson. The president bestowed on the lad immediate commission in the US Navy. His enlistment date states September 7th, 1831.
In the Navy
What a series of events for 13-year-old Simon F. Blunt—one day he is living peacefully on his father’s plantation, and the next in a fight for his life against Nat Turner, and now he finds himself in the confines of the US Navy. The rebellion attempt on Belmont changed his life incredibly, leading him on a path of world travel on the high seas for the next 23 years.
Thankfully (for me), his career in military service is fairly-well documented, but not until 1837, save for one mention in a Philadelphia paper in 1832 mentioning him serving in the Caribbean. I imagine he just "learned the ropes" and trained as a Midshipman on the high seas for those first five to six years in service.
In 1838, Blunt was assigned to the USS Porpoise, under the command of (Washington County native) Captain Cadwalader Ringgold (1811-1867) and passed midshipman on June 23rd before the ship joined the Wilkes Expedition in early August.
A passed midshipman, sometimes called as "midshipman, passed", is a term used historically in the 19th century to describe a midshipman who had passed the lieutenant's exam and was eligible for promotion to lieutenant as soon as there was a vacancy in that grade.
The Wilkes Expedition is also known as the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838–1842 and served as an exploring and surveying expedition of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding lands. Funding for the original expedition was requested by President John Quincy Adams in 1828, however, Congress would not implement funding until eight years later. In May 1836, the oceanic exploration voyage was finally authorized by Congress and created by President Andrew Jackson.
The expedition is referred to as the "Wilkes Expedition" in honor of its commanding officer, United States Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes. The expedition was of major importance to the growth of science in the United States, in particular the then-young field of oceanography. Lt. Wilkes had a reputation for hydrography, geodesy, and magnetism.
Personnel included naturalists, botanists, a mineralogist, a taxidermist, and a philologist. They were carried aboard the sloops-of-war USS Vincennes (780 tons), and USS Peacock (650 tons), the brig USS Porpoise (230 tons), the full-rigged ship Relief, which served as a store-ship, and two schooners, Sea Gull (110 tons) and USS Flying Fish (96 tons), which served as tenders.
During the event, armed conflict between Pacific islanders and the expedition was common and dozens of natives were killed in action, as well as a few of the American explorers. In March, 1839, at Orange Bay, Simon Blunt transferred to the USS Vincennes. On January 16th, 1840, the expedition sailed close enough to Antarctica to see the actual continent and it has been said that Blunt Cove is named for him.
Going from one temperature extreme to another, the expedition would next visit the Sandwich Islands in the South Pacific. Formerly this group of tropical islands was known to Europeans and Americans as the Sandwich Islands, a name that Captain James Cook chose in honor of the then First Lord of the Admiralty John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.
The contemporary name, dating from the 1840s, is derived from the name of the largest island, Hawaiʻi Island. The islands were first known to Europeans after the expedition of Álvaro de Saavedra Cerón in 1527. Interestingly, they would become known to all US residents, and the world to a greater degree, exactly 101 years after the Wilkes Expedition made their explorations. The famous naval station at Pearl Harbor would be established here in 1899, after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and subsequent annexation of the territory in 1893.
Our friend, Mr. Blunt, however, would not have the nicest time in paradise. He apparently took sick in April, 1841 in Honolulu, possibly from participating in the trip to the summit of Mauna Loa Volcano. He eventually rallied and made it back home to the US east coast. A few weeks after the expedition had arrived back in New York City, Simon Blunt was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on July 28th, 1842,
In 1844, Blunt was assigned to the USS Truxtun which departed Philadelphia in June of that year and would participate in patrolling activities off the coast of Liberia (Africa). In particular, the ship took up station off Tenerife in the Canary Islands to begin duty suppressing the slave trade. This tour lasted 16 months and when Simon returned, the young man attended the newly formed United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Lt. Blunt's time spent back in Annapolis, put him on a collision course with his future wife, Miss Ellen Lloyd Key, daughter of Francis Scott Key. The ninth child of the famous lawyer and songwriter was born in Georgetown in 1821 and was said to have been “especially attractive, a fine writer and even better public speaker.” On January 27th, 1846, Simon married Miss Key in Washington DC.
Ellen’s famous father was not in attendance as he had died three years previously. Also absent was Ellen’s older brother, Daniel Key, a former midshipman of Annapolis who was killed in a duel in Bladensburg (MD) in June, 1836 by a fellow Navy midshipman named John Sherburne. It’s highly likely that Blunt and Sherburne knew one another, and quite possible that Simon had met Daniel Key in his younger days as a midshipman of similar age.
One more unique connection could have helped “match-make” this particular marriage. Blunt’s former commander and colleague, Cadwalader Ringgold, was the half-brother of Virginia Ringgold Key. The former Miss Ringgold had married Ellen’s older brother, John Ross Key (1809-1837) in 1834.
Mr. and Mrs. Blunt went on to have three children: Alice Key Blunt (1847–1927); John Yell Mason Blunt (1849–1910); and Mary Lloyd Key Blunt (1850–?).
In 1849, Simon F. Blunt was appointed to a Joint Commission of Army and Navy Officers whose purpose was to identify potential sites for lighthouses and defense facilities along the Pacific Coast of the California and Oregon territories. The Joint Commission consisted of three army engineers: Maj. John L. Smith, Maj Cornelius Austin Ogden and 1st Lt. Danville Leadbetter; and three naval officers: Commodore Louis M. Goldsborough, Commodore G.J. Van Brunt, and Blunt, himself. It had assembled in San Francisco by early April 1849.
Blunt, either on his own or with the rest of the members of the Joint Commission, presumably joined his former Captain on the USS Porpoise. This was "Commodore" Cadwalader Ringgold who led an expedition on the chartered brig Col. Fremont in an effort to chart the San Francisco Bay region, suddenly important because of the recent discovery of gold in the area—the Gold Rush of '49.
Ringgold is reputed to have named Point Blunt on Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay for our friend Simon.
Afterwards, Lt. Blunt assisted Commodore Ringgold in the creation of two charts for the Bay area:
Chart of the Farallones and entrance to the Bay of San Francisco, California (1850)
Chart of the Bay of San Pablo, Straits of Carquinez, and part of the Bay of San Francisco (1850)
Blunt also drew a lithograph, View of Benicia from the anchorage east of Seal Island for Ringgold's Chart of Suisun & Vallejo Bays with the confluence of the rivers Sacramento and San Joaquin, California. A colored version of the lithograph was published in 1852.
A summary of the further activities of this group state the following:
The Joint Commission may have been joined by members of the land branch of the Pacific division of the United States Coast Survey. The USS Massachusetts was transferred to the Navy in San Francisco on August 1st, 1849, and detailed for the use of the Joint Commission to take up and down the coast, however they could not recruit a crew. They borrowed some crewmen from another ship and Blunt may have made his second trip to Hawaii, where the Massachusetts wintered and hired native crewmen. Upon its return, the Joint Commission made preliminary recommendations to President Millard Fillmore to reserve various islands and coastal regions in and around San Francisco Bay. Then they and the Massachusetts sailed up to Puget Sound. After a cursory examination of the mouth of the Columbia River, the ship and the Joint Commission returned to California in July 1850. After a trip to San Diego, the Joint Commission made its final recommendation on November 30th, 1850.
If Blunt went with the Joint Commission to Hawaii, immediately upon his return he separated from it and the Massachusetts. On March 10th, 1850 Blunt was in command of the Schooner Arabian with another military survey party en-route to Trinidad Bay. Upon reaching the bay, a boat with a landing party from the schooner swamped, resulting in the drowning of five men. Five more men survived. Blunt appears to have continued to the Columbia River and explored the Willamette Valley, and by August 1st, 1850, to have attached to the Survey Schooner Ewing of the Pacific Coast Survey.
In a letter of that time period from William Pope McArthur (the first leader of the hydrographic branch of the Pacific Coast Survey) to his father-in-law, Commander John J. Young, McArthur wrote of his group’s foray into what had been recognized officially as the Oregon Territory in 1848:
"Lt. Blunt who is now with me has traveled considerably through the country (the Willamette Valley) and is so much pleased with it, that he has taken a section of land and made a regular claim to it, he has also taken one for myself and one for Lt. Bartlett, both adjoining his!"
The forementioned Lt. McArthur was commander of USS Ewing, and Washington Allon Bartlett was one of its officers.
By August 31st, 1850, the USS Ewing had already worked its way south to San Diego. At the end of December 1850, the USS Ewing was severely damaged in a storm while attempting to take the new land branch of the Pacific Coast Survey to Monterey Bay. Upon her repair, she traveled up the coast to the Columbia River.
If Blunt was with still with the USS Ewing, he was back by early to mid-summer of 1851, when he was a signer of the constitution of the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance. This was a vigilante group formed in response to rampant crime and municipal government corruption in a town that had grown from 900 residents to over 20,000 in a short period thanks to the famed Gold Rush.
While here, Blunt spent time with friend John Charles and wife, Jessie Benton Frémont, at their home in the same city. Frémont (1813-1890) was an American explorer, military officer, and politician. He had recently been elected a US Senator from California, and later in 1856 would become the first Republican nominee for President of the United States. Simon likely discussed with the couple an idea that he was developing that would help lower lifeboats into the water from ships. This would be foreshadowing at its very best.
Meanwhile, I wondered what was occurring with Lt. Blunt's young family back east? At the very least in the year 1850, I found Ellen Key Blunt and Simon’s children living in Baltimore in the large household of Haslett McKim, a wealthy businessman, banker and broker. The residence was located at 27 West Franklin Street, not far from the Baltimore Cathedral.
I'm assuming that based on the life of a sailing man, more time for the couple was spent apart than together. Perhaps Ellen traveled out to see him on the west coast? Or maybe a furlough home at some point was enjoyed for the young US Navy veteran with a decade's service logged up to this point. Simon would be back home soon, but not for long.
On January 15th, 1852, Secretary of the Navy, Will A. Graham ordered a Naval Commission to select a site for a west coast naval yard. Simon F. Blunt, along with Commodore John Drake Sloat, Commodore Cadwalader Ringgold, and William P.S. Sanger (former overseer of construction of Drydock Number One, Norfolk Naval Shipyard) were appointed to the commission.
On July 13, 1852, Sloat recommended the island across the Napa River from the settlement of Vallejo, as it was "free from ocean gales and from floods and freshets." The Navy Department acted favorably on Commodore Sloat's recommendations and Mare Island was purchased for use as a naval shipyard in July 1853 at a cost of $83,410. On September 16, 1854, Mare Island became the first permanent US naval installation on the west coast, with Commodore David Farragut, as Mare Island's first commander.
Lt. Blunt was reunited with his family for the Christmas holidays of 1852. The following year of 1853 would prove another busy year for Simon Fraser Blunt. It began with him being named to the new, national Light House Board, in which he would oversee the New York district.
It appears that Blunt had a home in Washington, DC, but had made a permanent move to New York, and I assume that his family was in the plan as well, but I'm not positive about this. I do know that he was soon to work inspecting and building lighthouses with particular focus on the Long Island Sound and vicinity.
Not so “Golden” Moment
Somehow, Simon F. Blunt switched gears and left lighthouse inspection to become a steamship captain. I don't know if it was just a factor of his tenure expiring after the initial review of lighthouses or not, but he was now going to shuttle back and forth to the west coast. By mid-1853, Lt. Blunt had been hired as the captain of the SS Winfield Scott, which carried passengers, mail and cargo between San Francisco and Panama.
The discovery of gold in California brought thousands of fortune seekers from the east and around the world. To meet this new demand for travel and resources, shipping and maritime activity increased dramatically. Sailing ships and steamers carried people, food, and supplies up and down the coast and from the eastern United States. A typical voyage from New York to San Francisco brought passengers first to Panama and, once there, it often took over a month for another ship to arrive and take them up the Pacific seaboard.
In 1847 two steamship companies connecting New York with San Francisco and the Oregon Territory and charged primarily with the important task of delivering mail were subsidized by the federal government. The Steamship Company and the Pacific Mail Steamship Company acquired many steamships to travel the Panama route.
Independent steamship companies competed with the mail steamships by promising shorter voyages. To reach their destinations more quickly, ships often risked navigating the narrow Santa Barbara Channel rather than traveling around the Channel Islands.
The Winfield Scott was owned by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. Loaded with over 300 passengers and crew, bags of mail, and between $1-$2 million in gold, the steamship departed San Francisco for Panama on December 1st, 1853.
The next evening Captain Blunt chose to pass through the Santa Barbara Channel to save time. The fog was dense, but he knew his course. Believing he had passed the islands, Blunt turned southeast, an unfortunate and tragic miscalculation. At 11:00 pm, the Winfield Scott crashed into a large rock off Middle Anacapa Island at full speed, striking two holes in the bow. The stern then struck, knocking away the rudder, and the ship began to sink.
Captain Blunt sent a boat to find a place onshore for the passengers and ordered everyone on board to abandon ship. The large group was brought to the beaches of Anacapa where they camped for nearly a week. Another ship, the California, saw the smoke from the passengers’ fires and rescued the women. It returned on December 9th and removed the rest of the passengers. The company of the Winfield Scott was left on the island to attempt to recover mail, baggage, furniture, and some of the machinery from the wreck, but there was little hope of saving the ship or of getting it off of the ledge.
An eyewitness account by one of the passengers, an Ohio native named Asa Cyrus Call (1826-1888),can be found online thanks to descendants John and Virginia Call who transcribed/published Cyrus’ diaries (kept between 1850-1853) back in 1998:
The Winfield Scott
Dec. 5th, 1853.
A rock in the Pacific, 20 miles from the coast - Monday,
Dec. 5th, 1853.
I embarked on the Steamer Winfield Scott last Thursday, and at 12 o’clock we left Vally’s St. Wharf for Panama. We had fine weather till Friday evening, when it became foggy. One of the boilers had been leaking through the day which had retarded our progress, and the Sierra Navada had passed us, but it was repaired on Friday afternoon, and we were running about twelve miles an hour, when I went to bed on Friday night. This was about 9 o’clock. I had just got to sleep, when I was awakened by a tremendous shock. I knew we had struck a rock and hurrying on a part of my clothes I hurried up on deck where I found a general panic, but the steamer was backed off and with the assurance that all was right the most of the passengers retired again to their rooms. But I didn’t believe she could have struck a rock with such force without sustaining some injury, and not knowing what the upshot of the matter might be, I went down to my state room and put my money and all other valuables in my trunk into my saddle bags, and went into the upper saloon intending to be ready for what was to come next.
I had hardly taken a seat when the steamer struck again, and with such force, that it seemed as if the ship was breaking into a thousand fragments. I again hurried on deck, and went forward to see if I could see land. It was so dark I could see nothing, but I could distinctly hear the roar of the breakers ahead, and on the larboard side. The steamer was unmanageable, and the order was given to let off the steam and to extinguish the fires to prevent the ship's taking fire. The decks were densely crowded but considering the circumstances the people behaved remarkably well. It was a perfect jam. And all I could distinguish was an occasional small shriek as the ship lurched to one side giving evidence that she was sinking.
About ten minutes after we last struck the long boat was lowered, and I heard the Captain call for the ladies to go aboard. Some men pressed towards the boat but the Captain’s orders were “knock the first man overboard that attempts to get into the boat.” Meanwhile some life preservers were got up and were being distributed among the passengers. There was now a great breach in the steamer and the water pouring in like a river. Our only hope was that she might not sink entirely, as we could feel her sliding down the side of a ledge of rocks. Pretty soon the fog began to break away a little and we could see the light in the longboat as she was coasting along in search of a landing. We could also see the top of a high peak just ahead of the ship and pretty near, but it seemed perpendicular and the white foam and the roar showed that we could never hope to land there.
As soon as the life preservers were distributed, the other ships boats (five) were lowered, and filled with passengers. They all held about one hundred and fifty, and there were five hundred and twenty on board. After being gone about half an hour, the long boat returned, having found a landing. And in about two hours all hands were taken off, and were landed on a rock about fifty yards long by twenty five wide. The next day we came to a larger rock or Island, about half a mile long by 100 yards wide. We have succeeded in getting provisions and water enough from the wreck to do us so far. The sea has been quite smooth, or we should have been all lost. A boat went off to the mainland day before yesterday and returned last eve. An express has been sent to San Francisco and I shall look for a steamer in three or four days. Robbery and plunder has been the order of the day since the wreck. But today we appointed a committee of investigation and have had everything searched. A good deal of property has come to light, and two thieves have been flogged. I have recovered a pair of revolvers, a Bowie knife, and some clothing, but I am a good deal out of pocket yet. But probably my other things never came ashore. We are on short allowance, but I today shot a seal with my pistol, and we shall have a luscious dinner. We are expecting a schooner from the main land with supplies of water and provisions.
December 9th 7 p.m.
The old steamer California came to our rock sometime in the night last night, and made her presence known by firing cannon. We climbed to the top of the rock and made a large fire of weeds, which is the only fuel we have on the rock. The sea was very rough which made it dangerous getting onboard, but we finally accomplished it without any very serious accident. It is now supposed that there were one or two men lost when we were wrecked, as they have never been seen since. One was a Mr. Underwood, a butcher by trade.
After seeing to the rescue of the passengers and salvage of the mail and cargo, Captain Blunt continued “to Atlantic States on a visit to his family and for the purpose of representing in person, the loss of the steamer of which he formerly had commanded." Blunt would be cleared of any wrongdoing. An article from the time gives the sentiment of the passengers in regards to the accident.
As an aside, between 1850 and 1900, at least 33 ships were wrecked in the same Channel. The Winfield Scott still lies beneath the clear waters of Channel Islands National Park. Divers regularly visit it still to this day.
Simon Fraser Blunt and the passengers of the USS Winfield Scott made it back to New York City on January 29th, 1854 as evidenced by two news mentions in the New York Herald.
Sadly, this would be Simon Fraser Blunt’s last big adventure. I don’t know how he spent his last four months after returning home to the east coast from California, but he would die in Baltimore on April 27th, 1854 at the age of 35. His funeral was covered by the Baltimore Sun as his mortal remains were placed alongside his famous father-in-law within the Howard family vault in Old St Paul’s Cemetery in Baltimore.